How to Select an Accredited Sonography Program Near Hartselle Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Hartselle AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. First, you have to find the ideal program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And because some states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you investigate each school so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Many prospective students will start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost need to be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other critical factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.
Sonogram Tech Job Description
There are several acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as 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 specialties within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Hartselle AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work functions of an ultrasound technician may involve:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must frequently assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Available
Ultrasound technician students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require around 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 those who have previously obtained 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 related medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to bear in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many colleges set up through Hartselle AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whichever 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 Hartselle 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 Colleges
As aforementioned, nearly all sonogram tech schools have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Hartselle ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the remainder of the training and classes may be attended online in your Hartselle home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online colleges are many times more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be reduced as well. But just as with every ultrasound tech college you are reviewing, check that the online program you enroll in is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
When you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Hartselle AL area. Obviously location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are additional factors that you should also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician colleges have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to verify that the school and program 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous examination of their instructors and course materials. If the college is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Hartselle AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Hartselle AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Hartselle medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Hartselle AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need 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 don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom 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 looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Hartselle AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option 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 as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Hartselle Ultrasound Technician Program
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to launching a gratifying new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for lengthy durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Other helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to stay calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this article, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are considering. 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 college, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your objective to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Hartselle Alabama.