How to Select the Best Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Foley Alabama
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Foley AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a college. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will furnish the appropriate training to become a skilled professional. And given that a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you research each program in order to assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Most potential students will begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.
Sonographer Work Description
There are more than one 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 basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Foley AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work tasks of a sonogram technician can involve:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for further testing
Sonographers must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finalize. Another option for those who have previously obtained 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 related health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to bear in mind is that almost all sonographer schools do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many schools sponsor with Foley AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whatever 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 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.
Ultrasound Tech Online Colleges
As previously mentioned, almost all sonogram technician colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus facility. Clinical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Foley ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Foley home. This is especially beneficial for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online colleges are often less expensive than on campus alternatives. Costs for study materials and commuting may be decreased also. But similarly as with any sonographer college you are reviewing, make sure that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Sonogram Tech Schools
When you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Foley AL area. Obviously location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional factors that you should also take into account, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous examination of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Foley AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level openings.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the sonogram technician schools you are assessing have associations with Foley AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Foley medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Foley AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the ultrasound tech school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Foley AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Foley Ultrasound Technician Program
Choosing the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to launching a gratifying new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for extended time frames and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each program you are reviewing. This holds true whether you choose an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as a sonographer in Foley Alabama.