How to Enroll in an Accredited Sonography School Near Fairhope Alabama
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Fairhope AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary training to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each program in order to evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one start? Many prospective students will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting 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 other critical factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internships. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Occupation Summary
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Fairhope AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job tasks of an ultrasound technician may involve:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for supplemental 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 health practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram technician students have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finalize. Another option 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 health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to bear in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training component as a portion of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many colleges set up through Fairhope AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate 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 Fairhope 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.
Ultrasound Tech Online Programs
As earlier discussed, nearly all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So while 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 typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Fairhope ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the remainder of the training and classes can be attended online in your Fairhope home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. Plus online programs are frequently less costly than traditional options. Costs for study materials and commuting can be lessened also. But similarly as with any sonographer school you are considering, make sure that the online school you choose is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations 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 disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes may be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonography Programs
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Fairhope AL area. Obviously location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Colleges Accredited? Most sonogram tech colleges have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still crucial to make sure that the school and program 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 detailed review of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Fairhope AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the ultrasound tech colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Fairhope AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Fairhope medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Fairhope AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Fairhope AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Fairhope Ultrasound Tech Training
Choosing the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to commencing a rewarding new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for lengthy periods and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Other preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay calm when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This is true whether you select an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each school, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as a sonographer in Fairhope Alabama.