How to Choose the Best Sonography Training Program Near Jacksonville Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Jacksonville AL, the next step is to start the procedure of picking a school. To begin with, you have to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate training to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? A number of students will begin by looking for schools that are within commuting 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 also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Work Description
There are multiple professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as 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 carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Jacksonville AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job tasks of a sonogram tech can consist of:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require around 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to complete. Another alternative for those who have already earned a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have obtained a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a relevant health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that almost all sonographer colleges do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools sponsor through Jacksonville AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to comply with the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whatever state you elect 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.
Online Ultrasound Technician Degrees
As previously mentioned, virtually all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at an approved off-campus facility. Practical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Jacksonville ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the remainder of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Jacksonville home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online colleges are often less costly than on campus options. Costs for study materials and commuting can be reduced as well. But similarly as with every sonography school you are considering, confirm 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 especially crucial for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Tech Colleges
Once you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Jacksonville AL area. Clearly location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are other variables that you must also take into account, for instance if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? The majority of ultrasound tech schools have acquired some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still important to confirm that the school and program 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). Programs receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous review of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also help in getting financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Jacksonville AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the sonogram technician colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Jacksonville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Jacksonville healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the sonographer programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Jacksonville AL residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Jacksonville AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Jacksonville Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to initiating a gratifying new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy periods and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Other desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this article, there are several questions that you need to ask each college you are reviewing. This is true whether you choose an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each college, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Jacksonville Alabama.