How to Enroll in an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Course Near Hartselle Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Hartselle AL, it's time to start the process of picking a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the proper training to become a qualified professional. And since some states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each school so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Many potential students will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Job Description
There are several professional 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 primary job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Hartselle AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job functions of a sonogram technician can include:
- Maintaining records of patient medical 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
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Sonogram tech enrollees have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take about 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have already obtained 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 related medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous schools sponsor with Hartselle AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whichever 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 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.
Ultrasound Technician Online Degrees
As earlier discussed, nearly all ultrasound technician colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Hartselle ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the rest of the training and classes can be attended online in your Hartselle home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less expensive than on campus options. Costs for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But just as with every sonographer school you are considering, make sure that the online school 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 especially crucial for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
Now that you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Hartselle AL area. Of course location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are other factors that you should also take into consideration, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech colleges have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still imperative to confirm that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly regarded 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 gone through an extensive examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Hartselle AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the sonogram technician programs you are reviewing have associations with Hartselle AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Hartselle healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the sonographer schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Hartselle AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the sonographer program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Hartselle AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Hartselle Ultrasound Technician Program
Enrolling in the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to entering a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for lengthy periods and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Other preferred skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain 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 a number of questions that you need to ask each program you are looking at. This is the case whether you select an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each school, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as an ultrasound tech in Hartselle Alabama.