How to Choose an Accredited Sonography School Near Jacksonville Alabama
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Jacksonville AL, it's time to start the procedure of selecting a college. First, you have to find the ideal program that will provide the necessary training to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Many students will begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this article. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are available.
Sonogram Tech Work Summary
There are several professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Jacksonville AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily job functions of a sonogram technician can include:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically require about 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to finalize. Another option for those who have previously received 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 relevant health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many schools set up with Jacksonville AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whatever state you decide 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 Jacksonville 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 Degrees
As aforementioned, almost all sonogram technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on campus lab or at a sponsored off campus facility. Clinical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Jacksonville ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the rest of the training and classes may be attended online in your Jacksonville home. This is especially beneficial for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less costly than on-campus options. Costs for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But just as with any sonography program you are reviewing, check that the online school you choose is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes could be the right choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonogram Tech Colleges
Now that you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Jacksonville AL area. Certainly location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other things that you must also take into account, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to make sure that the program and school 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous review of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it can also obtain 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. Besides guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Jacksonville AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the ultrasound technician schools you are assessing have relationships with Jacksonville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Jacksonville health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Jacksonville AL residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college 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 commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Jacksonville AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Jacksonville Ultrasound Tech Training
Picking the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to initiating a rewarding new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy time frames and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Other desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is true whether you enroll in an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each school, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as a sonographer in Jacksonville Alabama.