How to Find an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Program Near Dothan Alabama
Once you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Dothan AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. First, you need to find the right program that will provide the appropriate training to become a skilled professional. And since some states do mandate that sonographers 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 extremely important that you investigate each school so that you can evaluate and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? Most potential students will start by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this article. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training options that are offered.
Sonographer Occupation Description
There are more than one acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Dothan AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job functions of a sonogram technician may include:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for further testing
Sonographers must regularly gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Available
Ultrasound tech students have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finish. 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 related health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to bear in mind is that almost all sonographer colleges do have a practical training component as a portion of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges sponsor with Dothan AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whichever state you decide 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Programs
As earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus facility. Clinical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Dothan ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Dothan home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online programs are often more affordable than on campus options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be decreased also. But just as with every ultrasound tech college you are reviewing, make sure that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
When you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Dothan AL area. Obviously location will be important if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification also. But there are other things that you must also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each sonographer program before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? The majority of ultrasound tech colleges have earned some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to make sure that the program and school are accredited. Among 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 undergone an extensive review of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged 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 acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Dothan AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the ultrasound tech colleges you are interested in have associations with Dothan AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of 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 Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job placement 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 students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Dothan AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble 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 school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening 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 enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Dothan Ultrasound Tech Program
Selecting the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to commencing a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic standards, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Additional preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each college you are looking at. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each school, 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, dedication and determination to succeed, you can reach your objective to practice as a sonographer in Dothan Alabama.