How to Select an Accredited Sonography School Near Greenville Alabama
Once you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Greenville AL, it's time to start the process of picking a college. First, you must find the ideal program that will provide the necessary education to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do require 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 research each school in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? A number of students will start by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training options that are offered.
Sonographer Job Summary
There are multiple 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 implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While many work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Greenville AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job functions of an ultrasound tech can include:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must regularly gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. 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 current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have already received 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 relevant health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that almost all sonographer colleges do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many schools sponsor with Greenville AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to comply with the certification or licensing 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 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 Sonogram Tech Schools
As earlier discussed, almost all sonogram technician schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at an approved off campus facility. Clinical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Greenville ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the rest of the classes and training can be attended online in your Greenville home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online colleges are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be lessened also. But similarly as with every sonography school you are considering, verify that the online program 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 crucial for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Tech Colleges
After you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Greenville AL area. Of course location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier as well. But there are other factors that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you need ask each sonography program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Colleges Accredited? Most sonogram technician schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still crucial 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). Schools earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous review of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it may also receive 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. In addition to ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Greenville AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the ultrasound technician programs you are evaluating have relationships with Greenville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Greenville healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Greenville AL residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble 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 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 commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Greenville AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Greenville Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is an important first step to initiating a gratifying new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic standards, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for lengthy durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Additional desirable talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are several questions that you need to ask each school you are considering. This holds true whether you select an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each school, 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, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as an ultrasound tech in Greenville Alabama.