How to Select the Right Ultrasound Tech School Near Greenville Alabama
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Greenville AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a college. First, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the proper education to become a skilled professional. And since some states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's very important that you investigate each program so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Many prospective students will begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location must be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional significant factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Description
There are more than one professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Greenville AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily job functions of a sonogram technician may consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient medical 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 re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Sonogram tech enrollees have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to complete. Another option for individuals who have previously 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 medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that the majority of sonographer schools do have a practical training component as a portion of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many schools organize with Greenville AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to comply with the certification or licensing requirements 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 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 Technician Programs
As earlier discussed, nearly all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Greenville ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the balance of the training and classes may be attended online in your Greenville home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online colleges are many times less costly than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be reduced as well. But similarly as with any sonography college you are looking at, confirm that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonography Colleges
After you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Greenville AL area. Clearly location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are additional factors that you must also take into account, for example if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. 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 sonography program before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? Most sonogram technician schools have received some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still crucial to confirm 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it might also earn 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. Along with ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Greenville AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the ultrasound technician colleges you are assessing have associations with Greenville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Greenville medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the sonographer programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Greenville AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently 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 person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer college you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Greenville AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Greenville Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to commencing a gratifying new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for prolonged durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Other helpful talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each program you are looking at. This is true whether you enroll in an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each school, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal to work as a sonographer in Greenville Alabama.