How to Select the Right Ultrasound Tech College Near Florence Alabama
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Florence AL, the next step is to start the procedure of choosing a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the necessary training to become a skilled professional. And since some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you research each program in order to evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one start? Most prospective students will start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Sonographer Occupation Description
There are several 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 primary job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although many work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Florence AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily work functions of an ultrasound technician can include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Available
Sonogram technician students have the choice to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have previously earned 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 enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous colleges set up through Florence AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whatever state you choose 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 Florence 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 Tech Classes
As previously mentioned, virtually all sonogram tech colleges 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 held in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Florence ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the rest of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Florence home. This is especially beneficial for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. Plus online programs are many times less costly than traditional alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be lessened as well. But similarly as with every sonography college you are reviewing, confirm that the online school you select is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
Now that you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Florence AL area. Of course location will be significant if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification also. But there are additional things that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each sonography program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician colleges have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative to verify that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous review of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it may 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. Along with ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Florence AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the sonogram technician schools you are evaluating have relationships with Florence AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Florence medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Florence AL home. Individuals who have decided 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 importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big 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 likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the sonographer program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Florence AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Florence Ultrasound Technician Program
Selecting the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is an important first step to initiating a gratifying new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged periods and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Other preferred talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each school you are looking at. This is the case whether you select an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each school, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as an ultrasound tech in Florence Alabama.