How to Find an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Program Near Foley Alabama
Once you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Foley AL, the next step is to begin the process of choosing a school. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the proper training to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do require 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 extremely important that you investigate each college in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? A number of prospective students will start by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location need to be considered when making a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training options that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Occupation Description
There are various 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 perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Foley AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily work tasks of a sonogram tech may involve:
- Preserving records of patient medical 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
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Available
Ultrasound technician students have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally require around 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another option for those who have previously 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 medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that most sonographer schools do have a practical training element as a portion of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many schools organize with Foley AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whichever 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 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.
Sonographer Online Schools
As earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at an authorized off-campus facility. Clinical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Foley ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the remainder of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Foley home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are many times more affordable than traditional alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be lessened as well. But just as with every sonography college you are looking at, verify that the online school you enroll in is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Foley AL area. Of course location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other factors that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each sonographer school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech colleges have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still important to make sure 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). Programs earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Foley AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the sonogram technician colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Foley AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Foley medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools 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 sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Foley AL residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online 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 bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually 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 likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance 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 need to confirm that the sonographer program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Foley AL area, verify that they are available. 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 have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Foley Ultrasound Tech Program
Selecting the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is an important first step to commencing a rewarding new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for extended time frames with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Other helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain calm when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are reviewing. This is the case whether you select an online degree or drive 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 choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Foley Alabama.