How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Tech School Near Hoover Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Hoover AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a college. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will provide the necessary training to become a skilled professional. And since some states do mandate that ultrasound techs 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 research each college in order to evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one start? A number of individuals will start by searching for schools 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 other important factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Description
There are more than one acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Hoover AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work duties of an ultrasound technician 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 usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech students have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require about 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finalize. 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 medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools sponsor through Hoover AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites 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 Hoover 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 Technician Schools
As earlier discussed, virtually all ultrasound tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on campus lab or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Clinical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Hoover ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the remainder of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Hoover home. This is particularly convenient for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online colleges are many times less expensive than traditional alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be reduced as well. But similarly as with every sonographer program you are considering, check that the online school you enroll in 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 finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Tech Colleges
After you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Hoover AL area. Certainly location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification also. But there are other factors that you should also take into account, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, following are several questions that you need ask each sonography college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? Most ultrasound technician schools have earned some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative to make sure 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). Programs receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed evaluation of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also help in securing financial aid and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Hoover AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the sonogram tech programs you are reviewing have associations with Hoover AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner 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 can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Hoover health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs 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 corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Hoover AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing 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 might 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 for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the ultrasound tech school you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Hoover AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Hoover Ultrasound Tech Program
Picking the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to initiating a gratifying new profession furnishing 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 health, capable of standing for prolonged periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Additional preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is true whether you choose an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each school, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can realize your objective to practice as a sonographer in Hoover Alabama.