How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Gulf Shores Alabama
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Gulf Shores AL, it's time to begin the procedure of selecting a college. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will provide the necessary training to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you research each program so that you can assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Most individuals will start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should be considered when making a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this post. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Job Description
There are various 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 description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Gulf Shores AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily work duties of an ultrasound tech can include:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must regularly gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the choice to earn 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 program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finalize. Another option for individuals who have previously 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 related health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools set up with Gulf Shores AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whatever state you choose 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 Gulf Shores 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Colleges
As earlier discussed, nearly all ultrasound technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus lab or at an approved off campus facility. Clinical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Gulf Shores ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the rest of the training and classes may be attended online in your Gulf Shores home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online colleges are many times less costly than on campus options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be reduced as well. But just as with any sonographer school you are reviewing, verify that the online program you choose is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Programs
After you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You may first want to choose whether you will access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Gulf Shores AL area. Clearly location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonographer school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? Most sonogram tech schools have obtained some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still important to confirm that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 undergone a detailed examination of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Gulf Shores AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the sonogram technician schools you are reviewing have partnerships with Gulf Shores AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive 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 establish professional relationships in the Gulf Shores healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Gulf Shores AL home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry 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 choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable 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 monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gulf Shores AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Gulf Shores Ultrasound Tech Program
Selecting the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to entering a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for extended durations and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each school you are reviewing. This is true whether you select an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each program, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Gulf Shores Alabama.