How to Choose the Right Ultrasound Tech Training Program Near Jacksonville Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Jacksonville AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will provide the necessary training to become a skilled professional. And since 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 extremely important that you investigate each college so that you can evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? Many individuals will start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location need to be taken into account when arriving at 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 covered more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Description
There are more than one acceptable 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 primary job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Jacksonville AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily work duties of a sonogram tech can include:
- Preserving records of patient case 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 recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must frequently assess the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally involve around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to finish. Another alternative 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 relevant health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to consider is that almost all sonographer programs do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges organize through Jacksonville AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to comply with the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alabama or whatever state you elect 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.
Online Ultrasound Technician Classes
As previously mentioned, virtually all ultrasound technician colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Jacksonville ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the rest of the training and classes may be attended online in your Jacksonville home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online colleges are many times less costly than traditional options. Costs for commuting and study materials can be reduced also. But just as with any sonographer program you are considering, confirm that the online school you enroll in is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies 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 motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Sonography Colleges
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Jacksonville AL area. Obviously location will be critical if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier also. But there are other things that you must also take into consideration, for example if the schools are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each sonographer college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? Most sonogram technician colleges have acquired some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to confirm 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed review 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 online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Jacksonville AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the sonogram technician schools you are assessing have associations with Jacksonville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Jacksonville health care community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the sonographer programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success 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 substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Jacksonville AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Jacksonville AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Jacksonville Ultrasound Tech Program
Picking the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a vital first step to commencing a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for prolonged durations and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Additional desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are considering. This is the case whether you select an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your objective to practice as a sonographer in Jacksonville Alabama.