How to Select the Best Ultrasound Technician Training Program Near Decatur Alabama
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Decatur AL, it's time to start the procedure of picking a college. First, you have to find the right program that will furnish the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you research each college in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one start? A number of potential students will start by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other critical factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Summary
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Decatur AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily work duties of an ultrasound technician may involve:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to complete. Another option for those who have already obtained 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 relevant health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that the majority of sonographer programs do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous schools organize with Decatur AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you elect 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 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.
Ultrasound Technician Online Schools
As aforementioned, nearly all ultrasound technician schools have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Clinical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Decatur ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the rest of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Decatur home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online colleges are frequently less expensive than on campus options. Costs for study materials and commuting can be reduced also. But just as with any sonographer college you are reviewing, make sure that the online program you choose is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
When you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Decatur AL area. Of course location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional variables that you should also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you need ask each sonographer school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to confirm that the school and program are accredited. One of 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial aid and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Decatur AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the sonogram technician colleges you are interested in have relationships with Decatur AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Decatur healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success 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 corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Decatur AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble 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 decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often 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 are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer school you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Decatur AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Decatur Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to embarking on a gratifying new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Other helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain collected when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are looking at. This is true whether you select an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate 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, discipline and determination to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Decatur Alabama.