How to Pick an Accredited Sonography Course Near Jacksonville Alabama
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Jacksonville AL, the next step is to start the process of selecting a college. First, you have to find the right program that will provide the appropriate education to become a skilled professional. And because a number of 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 licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program in order to assess and compare your choices. But just where does one start? Most individuals will start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifications will be covered more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Summary
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 procedures on patients. Although a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Jacksonville AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily work tasks of a sonogram technician can include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely evaluate 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 maintain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to complete. Another alternative for those who have already obtained 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 medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many colleges organize with Jacksonville AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alabama or whatever 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 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 Classes
As previously mentioned, nearly all sonogram technician schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at an authorized off campus facility. Clinical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Jacksonville ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the balance of the training and classes may be attended online in your Jacksonville home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less expensive than traditional alternatives. Costs for study materials and commuting may be decreased as well. But just as with every sonography school you are considering, check that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the right choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
When you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Jacksonville AL area. Of course location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification also. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you need ask each sonographer college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? Most sonogram technician schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still important to verify that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Jacksonville AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the sonogram technician programs you are interested in have associations with Jacksonville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Jacksonville medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Jacksonville AL home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers 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 personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Jacksonville AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Jacksonville Ultrasound Technician Program
Picking the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a vital first step to embarking on a gratifying new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy periods and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Additional desirable skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay collected when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each program you are considering. This holds true whether you enroll in an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each college, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Jacksonville Alabama.