How to Select the Right Ultrasound Technician College Near Homewood Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Homewood AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a college. First, you have to find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do require 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 research each school so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? A number of potential students will begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are offered.
Sonographer Work 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. No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Homewood AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job tasks of an ultrasound technician can involve:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details 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
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have already 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 relevant health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many schools set up through Homewood AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whichever state you choose to work 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 Homewood 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 Tech Schools
As previously mentioned, almost all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at an approved off campus facility. Practical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Homewood ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the balance of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Homewood home. This is especially convenient for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online colleges are often more affordable than on campus alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be decreased also. But similarly as with every sonographer program you are reviewing, check that the online program you select 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 motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
Now that you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Homewood AL area. Naturally location will be important if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are other things that you should also take into consideration, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are some questions that you may want to ask each sonographer college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician schools have earned some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to confirm that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly regarded 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 undergone a detailed assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Homewood AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound technician colleges you are assessing have associations with Homewood AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Homewood health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large 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 decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Homewood AL residence. Those who have opted 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. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Homewood AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Homewood Ultrasound Technician Program
Enrolling in the right sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to embarking on a gratifying new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for lengthy periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Other preferred skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each college you are considering. This is the case whether you enroll in an online program or travel 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 choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can reach your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Homewood Alabama.