How to Enroll in an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Program Near Helena Alabama
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Helena AL, it's time to start the procedure of choosing a school. First, you need to find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do require 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 investigate each college in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Many prospective students will start by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should be considered when making a decision, but there are other critical factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this article. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Summary
There are more than one acceptable 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 function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Helena AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily work tasks of a sonogram tech can consist of:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for further testing
Sonographers must routinely assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the option to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally take about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to complete. Another option for individuals who have already 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 health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges organize with Helena AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification 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 Helena 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, almost all ultrasound technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Practical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Helena ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the balance of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Helena home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online programs are frequently less costly than on campus options. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech program you are considering, confirm that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of 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 motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
As soon as you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You may first want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Helena AL area. Certainly location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are other variables that you must also take into consideration, such as if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? Most sonogram tech colleges have acquired some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to make sure that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies 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 a detailed examination of their instructors and course materials. If the college is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Helena AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the ultrasound tech schools you are interested in have associations with Helena AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Helena medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Helena AL home. Individuals who have chosen 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 decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Helena AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check 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 due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Helena Ultrasound Tech Training
Choosing the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to launching a rewarding new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged durations and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Other preferred talents include technical aptitude, the ability to stay levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are considering. This holds true whether you select an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each school, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Helena Alabama.