How to Pick the Right Ultrasound Technician School Near Greenville Alabama
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Greenville AL, the next step is to begin the procedure of picking a school. To begin with, you have to find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary training to become a qualified professional. And since some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely 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 driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location should be considered when making a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this post. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Sonographer Job Summary
There are multiple professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Greenville AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily work functions of a sonogram technician may include:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely evaluate the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve about 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have obtained a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a relevant health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training element as part of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which numerous schools organize through Greenville AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing 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 Ultrasound Tech Degrees
As earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound technician colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus facility. Practical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Greenville ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your Greenville home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online colleges are often less expensive than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be decreased as well. But just as with any sonography college you are reviewing, check that the online program you choose is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Technician Schools
As soon as you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Greenville AL area. Clearly location will be important if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional things that you should also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, following are several questions that you need ask each sonographer school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician colleges have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still crucial to verify that the school and program are accredited. One of 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed assessment of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Greenville AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the sonogram technician programs you are interested in have relationships with Greenville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Greenville healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Greenville AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required 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 are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the sonographer college you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. 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, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Greenville Ultrasound Tech Program
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to starting a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep levelheaded when faced with 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 several questions that you need to ask each school you are considering. This is true whether you choose an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can realize your objective to work as a sonographer in Greenville Alabama.