How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Technician School Near Enterprise Alabama
Once you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Enterprise AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. First, you must find the ideal program that will provide the proper education to become a skilled professional. And given that some 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 licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you research each college so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? A number of students will begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Work 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 description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although many work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Enterprise AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work functions of a sonogram technician may involve:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the option to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve around 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to finish. Another option for individuals who have already obtained 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 related medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that almost all sonographer schools do have a clinical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools set up with Enterprise AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whatever 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 Enterprise 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 Technician Classes
As earlier discussed, almost all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on campus lab or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Enterprise ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the balance of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Enterprise home. This is especially convenient for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less expensive than on campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be lessened as well. But just as with every sonographer school you are reviewing, make sure that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 motivated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
After you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Enterprise AL area. Certainly location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification also. But there are additional factors that you should also take into consideration, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each sonography program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician schools have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial to verify that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies 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 undergone a detailed assessment of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Enterprise AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the ultrasound technician schools you are reviewing have associations with Enterprise AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Enterprise healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the sonographer programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Enterprise AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble 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 college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at 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 final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Enterprise AL area, make certain that they are offered. 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 carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Enterprise Ultrasound Tech Training
Choosing the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is an important first step to initiating a gratifying new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools 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 health, capable of standing for lengthy time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are reviewing. This holds true whether you select an online program or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Enterprise Alabama.