Ultrasound Tech Occupation Summary
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 procedures on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Alabama hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job functions of an ultrasound technician can include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve around 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finalize. Another option for individuals who have already earned 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 related medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of sonographer schools do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous schools sponsor through Alabama clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the licensing or certification 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 Alabama:
- 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 Degrees
As earlier discussed, virtually all ultrasound technician schools have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Alabama outpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the balance of the classes and training may be attended online in your home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are many times less expensive than traditional alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be lessened as well. But just as with any sonographer school you are reviewing, make sure that the online program 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 licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal choice for you.