How to Find the Best Ultrasound Technician Training Program Near Dothan Alabama
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Dothan AL, the next step is to begin the process of selecting a college. First, you have to find the right program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a skilled professional. And since some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one start? Many individuals will start by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.
Sonographer Job Description
There are various acceptable 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 perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Dothan AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job duties of an ultrasound tech may consist of:
- 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 testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for further testing
Sonographers must regularly assess the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Offered
Sonogram technician students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally take around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer 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 earned a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many schools set up with Dothan AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whatever state you choose 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 Dothan 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 Tech Classes
As earlier discussed, virtually all sonogram tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So although 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 satisfied through an internship at a local Dothan ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your Dothan home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are frequently less costly than traditional alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be lessened as well. But just as with every sonographer college you are looking at, confirm that the online school you choose is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonogram Tech Colleges
When you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Dothan AL area. Certainly location will be important if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification also. But there are additional variables that you should also take into account, for example if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician schools have earned some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to confirm that the program and school 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the college is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance 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 superior education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Dothan AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound technician colleges you are assessing have associations with Dothan AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Dothan medical community and assist 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 profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the sonographer programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success 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 confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Dothan AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally 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 type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at 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 determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the sonographer program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Dothan AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Dothan Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a vital first step to launching a fulfilling new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Additional preferred skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay levelheaded when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This holds true whether you choose an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Dothan Alabama.