How to Find an Accredited Sonography Degree Program Near Foley Alabama
Once you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Foley AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a college. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And because some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each school in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one begin? A number of students will begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Job Summary
There are multiple professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as 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 implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Foley AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily job functions of a sonogram tech can include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another option for individuals who have already earned 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 relevant health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges organize through Foley AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whatever state you elect 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 Foley 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 Colleges
As previously mentioned, almost all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus facility. Clinical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Foley ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Foley home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online programs are often more affordable than on-campus options. Costs for study materials and commuting can be decreased as well. But similarly as with every sonography school you are considering, verify that the online program you choose is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for licensing, certification and finding employment (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 school may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
Now that you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Foley AL area. Naturally location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional factors that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician schools have received some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still crucial to confirm that the program and school are accredited. Among 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 undergone an extensive examination of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Foley AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the sonogram tech colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Foley AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Foley health care community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the sonographer schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Foley AL home. Students who have opted 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. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally 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 back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor 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 sonogram tech program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Foley AL area, confirm that they are available. 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 may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Foley Ultrasound Technician Program
Choosing the ideal sonographer degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to initiating a gratifying new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for extended periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other preferred talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep collected when faced with an angry or anxious 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 considering. This is the case whether you choose an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can reach your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Foley Alabama.