How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Training Program Near Daphne Alabama
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Daphne AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a college. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate education to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program in order to assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Most students will begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost need to be considered when making a decision, but there are other important factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Sonographer Occupation Summary
There are more than one acceptable 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 primary job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Daphne AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily job functions of an ultrasound technician may involve:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly gauge the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician students have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have already obtained 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 relevant medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous schools organize with Daphne AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whatever state you decide 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 Daphne 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.
Online Sonographer Schools
As earlier discussed, virtually all ultrasound technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on campus laboratory or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Daphne ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the rest of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Daphne home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online programs are often more affordable than on campus alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be decreased as well. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech school you are considering, check that the online program you enroll in is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
When you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Daphne AL area. Obviously location will be critical if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into consideration, such as if the schools are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of ultrasound tech schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still crucial to verify that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Daphne AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram technician programs you are reviewing have relationships with Daphne AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Daphne medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Daphne AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech college you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Daphne AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Daphne Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to embarking on a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for extended time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Other preferred skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each college you are considering. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as an ultrasound tech in Daphne Alabama.