How to Select the Best Ultrasound Tech College Near Decatur Alabama
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Decatur AL, it's time to start the procedure of selecting a school. First, you need to find the ideal program that will furnish the proper training to become a qualified professional. And because some states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you research each program so that you can assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Many students will begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be considered when making a decision, but there are other important factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this post. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education options that are offered.
Sonographer Work Summary
There are more than one acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Decatur AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job tasks of a sonogram technician can involve:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Sonogram technician students have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for those who have already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received 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 finish. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training element as a portion of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many colleges sponsor with Decatur AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree 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 Decatur 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 Ultrasound Technician Degrees
As aforementioned, nearly all sonogram technician colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an approved off campus facility. Clinical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Decatur ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the rest of the training and classes can be attended online in your Decatur home. This is especially beneficial for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online schools are often more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be reduced as well. But just as with every ultrasound tech program you are looking at, check 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 particularly important for certification, licensing and job placement (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 an online school may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Sonography Programs
As soon as you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Decatur AL area. Obviously location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier as well. But there are other factors that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Colleges Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician schools have received some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative to confirm that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive review of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations 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 securing financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Decatur AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level openings.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the sonogram technician colleges you are evaluating have associations with Decatur AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Decatur medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Decatur AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech college you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Decatur AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Decatur Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a vital first step to launching a fulfilling new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for extended periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Additional beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are multiple questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is true whether you enroll in an online degree or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each college, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Decatur Alabama.