How to Pick an Accredited Ultrasound Tech College Near Gardendale Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Gardendale AL, it's time to begin the procedure of selecting a school. First, you need to find the right program that will furnish the necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And since some states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, 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 college in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one start? Many prospective students will start by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internships. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are available.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Description
There are multiple acceptable 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 primary job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Gardendale AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily job duties of a sonogram technician can include:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally take around 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to complete. Another option for individuals who have already received 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 field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that most sonographer 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 organize with Gardendale AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites 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 Gardendale 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 aforementioned, nearly all sonogram tech colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at a sponsored off campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Gardendale ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be attended online in your Gardendale home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are often less costly than on-campus options. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be lessened also. But similarly as with any sonographer program you are reviewing, verify that the online program you choose is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Sonography Colleges
As soon as you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of assessing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Gardendale AL area. Clearly location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier as well. But there are additional factors that you must also take into consideration, for example if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? Most sonogram technician schools have earned some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to make sure 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). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous review of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. 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 getting financial aid and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Gardendale AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound tech colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Gardendale AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive hands on 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 help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Gardendale medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the sonographer programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Gardendale AL residence. Students who have opted 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 importance. 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 need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical 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 a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the sonographer school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gardendale AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Gardendale Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a vital first step to embarking on a gratifying new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with meeting academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Other preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each program you are reviewing. This is the case whether you choose an online program or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each college, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to work as a sonographer in Gardendale Alabama.