How to Choose the Right Sonography School Near Dothan Alabama
Since you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Dothan AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program so that you can evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one begin? A number of potential students will start by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Description
There are various acceptable 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 description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Dothan AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily work duties of an ultrasound tech may involve:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take about 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finish. Another alternative for those who have already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have obtained a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a relevant medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many schools sponsor with Dothan AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whichever state you elect 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 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Schools
As earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Dothan ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the rest of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Dothan home. This is especially convenient for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online colleges are often less costly than on-campus alternatives. Costs for study materials and commuting may be lessened also. But just as with every sonographer program you are looking at, verify that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important 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 comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Sonography Programs
As soon as you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Dothan AL area. Clearly location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification also. But there are additional things that you must also take into account, such as if the schools are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonographer school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech schools have received some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative to make sure 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). Schools earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers 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. Besides ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Dothan AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the ultrasound technician colleges you are assessing have relationships with Dothan AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Dothan medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Dothan AL home. Students 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 importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college 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 normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the ultrasound tech college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Dothan AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. 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 Dothan Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to initiating a rewarding new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged time frames and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Additional beneficial skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each college you are reviewing. This holds true whether you select an online degree or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each program, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as a sonographer in Dothan Alabama.