How to Select the Best Sonography College Near Homewood Alabama
Once you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Homewood AL, the next step is to start the procedure of choosing a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the necessary instruction to become a skilled professional. And because a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Many individuals will start by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other critical factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training options that are offered.
Sonographer Occupation Summary
There are various acceptable 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 basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Homewood AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job tasks of an ultrasound tech can consist of:
- Preserving 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 sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must frequently gauge the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically 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 as long as four years to finalize. Another option for those 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 medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many schools set up with Homewood AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to comply with 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 Classes
As previously mentioned, nearly all sonogram tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on campus lab or at a sponsored off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Homewood ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the balance of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Homewood home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less costly than on campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials may be decreased also. But just as with any sonography program you are looking at, verify that the online school 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 important for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
As soon as you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Homewood AL area. Of course location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other things that you must also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each sonography program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? Most sonogram technician schools have received some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to verify 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Homewood AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the ultrasound technician programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Homewood AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Homewood health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the sonographer programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Homewood AL residence. Individuals 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 concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the sonographer program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Homewood AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Homewood Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the right ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to commencing a rewarding new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for extended periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Additional preferred skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are considering. This is true whether you select an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each college, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as a sonographer in Homewood Alabama.