How to Enroll in the Right Sonography Course Near Dothan Alabama
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Dothan AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. First, you need to find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate education to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's very important that you research each school in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Many prospective students will start by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Description
There are several professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Dothan AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work duties of a sonogram technician may consist of:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining need for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently assess the performance and safety of their equipment. 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 current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the choice 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 dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to complete. Another alternative for individuals who have previously earned 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 relevant medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that the majority of sonographer schools do have a practical training element as part of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many schools organize through Dothan AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alabama or whichever 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 Sonographer Degrees
As previously mentioned, nearly all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on campus lab or at an approved off campus facility. Practical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Dothan ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the balance of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Dothan home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online colleges are often less expensive than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be lessened also. But just as with any sonographer program you are considering, check that the online school you ultimately pick 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 learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Sonogram Tech Schools
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Dothan AL area. Obviously location will be significant if you choose 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 account, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each sonography school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still crucial to confirm that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 detailed evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial aid and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Dothan AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound technician colleges you are reviewing have partnerships with Dothan AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Dothan healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Dothan AL residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. 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 may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Dothan AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Dothan Ultrasound Tech Program
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a vital first step to embarking on a rewarding new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy time frames and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Additional helpful talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain collected when confronted by an anxious or angry 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 college you are reviewing. This is true whether you select an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each college, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Dothan Alabama.