How to Find the Right Ultrasound Technician Training Program Near Gardendale Alabama
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Gardendale AL, the next step is to start the procedure of picking a school. First, you need to find the right program that will furnish the appropriate education to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program so that you can 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 commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be considered when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this article. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs 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 function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Gardendale AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work functions of a sonogram tech may consist of:
- 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 testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for further testing
Sonographers must routinely assess the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to complete. 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 medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that the majority of sonographer programs do have a clinical training element as a portion of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many schools organize with Gardendale AL clinics and hospitals. After 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 whichever 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 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.
Online Sonogram Tech Degrees
As aforementioned, nearly all ultrasound tech colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus facility. Clinical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Gardendale ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the rest of the classes and training can be attended online in your Gardendale home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are often less costly than on campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But just as with any sonography college you are considering, make sure that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Gardendale AL area. Certainly location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier also. But there are other things that you must also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound technician colleges have acquired 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 regarded accrediting organizations 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 a detailed examination of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it may also earn 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 ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial aid and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Gardendale AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram tech schools you are reviewing have partnerships with Gardendale AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Gardendale medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Gardendale AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom 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 schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the sonographer college you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gardendale AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn 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
Selecting the right ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to embarking on a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for prolonged durations and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple questions that you should ask each program you are looking at. This is true whether you choose an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each program, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to work as a sonographer in Gardendale Alabama.