How to Pick the Right Sonography Training Program Near Daphne Alabama
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Daphne AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a college. First, you must find the right program that will furnish the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And because some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's extremely important that you research each school in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Many prospective students will begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost must be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other critical factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be covered more in detail later in this post. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Job Description
There are multiple 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 description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Daphne AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job duties of a sonogram tech may involve:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Sonogram tech enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally take about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to complete. Another alternative for those who have previously received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have earned a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools organize through Daphne AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whatever state you decide to work 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.
Ultrasound Tech Online Colleges
As previously mentioned, nearly all sonogram technician colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at an approved off campus facility. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Daphne ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the remainder of the classes and training may be attended online in your Daphne home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are frequently less expensive than on-campus alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But just as with every ultrasound tech college you are reviewing, make sure that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Technician Schools
As soon as you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Daphne AL area. Of course location will be critical if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification as well. But there are additional factors that you must also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each sonographer school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative to confirm that the school and program 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Daphne AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the ultrasound tech colleges you are reviewing have partnerships with Daphne AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Daphne health care community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job placement 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 corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Daphne AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. 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 talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Daphne AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Daphne Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the right ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a vital first step to starting a rewarding new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged periods and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Other preferred talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep calm when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are reviewing. This is the case whether you select an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each school, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can realize your objective to work as a sonographer in Daphne Alabama.