How to Find the Best Sonography Degree Program Near Greenville Alabama
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Greenville AL, the next step is to begin the procedure of selecting a college. To begin with, you need to find the right program that will provide the proper education to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program in order to assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Many individuals will begin by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost must be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional important factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be covered more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Summary
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Greenville AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily work functions of a sonogram tech can involve:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degrees Available
Sonogram technician enrollees have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to complete. Another option for those who have already obtained 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 instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges set up with Greenville AL hospitals and clinics. When 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 whatever state you decide 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 Greenville 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 Sonographer Schools
As previously mentioned, nearly all ultrasound tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus lab or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Greenville ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the remainder of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Greenville home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online colleges are often less costly than traditional options. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be reduced also. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech school you are looking at, check that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
After you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Greenville AL area. Of course location will be important if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier also. But there are other variables that you should also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonography program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech colleges have acquired some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still imperative 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). Programs earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also help in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Greenville AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level openings.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the sonogram technician schools you are interested in have relationships with Greenville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Greenville medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the sonographer schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Greenville 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 importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Greenville AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Greenville Ultrasound Tech Training
Picking the ideal sonographer degree or certificate program is a vital first step to entering a rewarding new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have 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 prolonged periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Additional beneficial skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay calm when confronted by an angry or anxious 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 school you are considering. This is true whether you select an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each college, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can reach your objective to practice as a sonographer in Greenville Alabama.