How to Find an Accredited Sonography Degree Program Near Clay Alabama
Once you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Clay AL, the next step is to start the procedure of choosing a school. To begin with, you need to find the right program that will furnish the proper instruction to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you research each college so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one start? A number of potential students will start by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are offered.
Sonographer Occupation Description
There are more than one professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Clay AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily work functions of a sonogram technician can involve:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Available
Ultrasound technician students have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally involve about 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to complete. Another alternative for individuals who have previously earned a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have obtained a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that most sonographer programs do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many colleges sponsor with Clay AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you choose to practice in.
Ultrasound Technology Specialties
Ultrasound technology, or diagnostic sonography, has become more popular for diagnosing internal medical conditions because, unlike other medical imaging tools such as X-rays or CT Scans, ultrasound doesn’t expose the body to radiation. This safer approach has made ultrasound imaging the preferred method for testing pregnant women and infants, who have a higher risk for complications due to radiation. However, babies and expectant mothers are not the only ones who can benefit from ultrasound imaging and it is used in many ways to diagnose illness in the body. Following is a partial list of ultrasound technician education specialties available in the Clay AL area:
- Musculoskeletal sonographers can create real-time images of joint injuries, assisting orthopedic surgeons and sports physicians in their diagnosis and treatment.
- Abdominal sonographers specialize in generating images of abdominal internal organs and tissues, such as the pancreas, spleen, liver and gallbladder.
- Breast sonographers conduct ultrasound scans using a sound frequency specifically targeted for breast tissue to evaluate tumors and other abnormalities as a method of verifying or contradicting the results of a mammogram.
- Obstetrics/Gynecology sonographers work with women to scan their reproductive organs and assess the development and health of fetuses throughout the pregnancy.
- Echocardiography sonographers are trained in the imaging and evaluation of the heart, its valves and vessels, and the blood flow to and from the heart.
- Vascular technologists are trained to use ultrasound technology to identify damaged areas or blockages in blood vessels, and to gauge the flow of blood through veins and arteries.
- Ophthalmology sonographers conduct diagnostic tests on the eyes and surrounding muscles and tissue.
- Neurosonology sonographers are specially trained to use ultrasound imaging to detect blockages, tumors or abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.
Sonographer Online Schools
As aforementioned, nearly all sonogram tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Clinical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Clay ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the remainder of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Clay home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online programs are often less expensive than on campus alternatives. Costs for study materials and commuting may be lessened also. But similarly as with any sonographer program you are considering, make sure that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Tech Colleges
Once you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Clay AL area. Obviously location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are additional things that you should also take into account, such as if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you need ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound technician colleges have acquired some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to confirm that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous examination of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Clay AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the sonogram tech programs you are reviewing have associations with Clay AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Clay medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Clay AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Clay AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Clay Ultrasound Tech Program
Enrolling in the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to embarking on a gratifying new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged time frames and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Other helpful talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each program you are reviewing. This is the case whether you choose an online program or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each school, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as a sonographer in Clay Alabama.