How to Select the Right Sonography Program Near Hoover Alabama
Since you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Hoover AL, it's time to start the procedure of selecting a school. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And because some states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each program in order to assess and compare your options. But just where does one start? Many prospective students will begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other critical factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation 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 implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Hoover AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job duties of an ultrasound technician can consist of:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Available
Sonogram technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally take about 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for those 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 related medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many colleges sponsor with Hoover AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing 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 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Schools
As previously mentioned, virtually all ultrasound tech schools have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on campus lab or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Hoover ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the balance of the classes and training may be attended online in your Hoover home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online programs are often more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be reduced also. But just as with any ultrasound tech college you are reviewing, check that the online school you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Sonogram Tech Colleges
After you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Hoover AL area. Certainly location will be important if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification as well. But there are other things that you should also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each sonography program before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? Most sonogram technician colleges have obtained some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative to verify 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive examination of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in securing financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Hoover AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the ultrasound technician programs you are interested in have relationships with Hoover AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Hoover healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Hoover AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the sonographer program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Hoover AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option 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 may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Hoover Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to embarking on a gratifying new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for extended time frames with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Additional beneficial skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each college you are looking at. This is true whether you select an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each school, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Hoover Alabama.