How to Find an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Homewood Alabama
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Homewood AL, it's time to start the process of picking a college. First, you must find the right program that will furnish the appropriate training to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you investigate each program so that you can assess and compare your options. But just where does one start? Most individuals will begin by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location must be considered when making a decision, but there are other important factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Sonographer Job Description
There are multiple professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Homewood AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work functions of an ultrasound tech may 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 testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Offered
Sonogram technician students have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally require around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to complete. Another option for individuals who have already received 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 relevant health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many schools set up through Homewood AL clinics and hospitals. When 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 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 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.
Ultrasound Technician Online Colleges
As earlier discussed, virtually all ultrasound technician colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at a sponsored off campus facility. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Homewood ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Homewood home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are many times less costly than on campus options. Costs for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But similarly as with any sonography college you are reviewing, verify that the online school you select is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the right choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
Now that you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Homewood AL area. Certainly 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 schools are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial to confirm that the school and program 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the college 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. In addition to guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Homewood AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level openings.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the ultrasound technician programs you are interested in have associations with Homewood AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Homewood medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Homewood AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally 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 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often 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 person 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 enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer college you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Homewood AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Homewood Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to initiating a gratifying new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain calm when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each school you are considering. This holds true whether you enroll in an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as a sonographer in Homewood Alabama.