How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Lanett Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Lanett AL, the next step is to begin the process of choosing a school. First, you have to find the right program that will provide the necessary training to become a skilled professional. And because some states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each college in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? Most potential students will start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location need to be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other critical factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Work Summary
There are multiple professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Lanett AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily work tasks of a sonogram tech may include:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take about 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another option for those who have already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have earned a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related health sector, 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 ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools set up through Lanett AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whichever 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 Lanett 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 Tech Classes
As aforementioned, virtually all sonogram technician colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus facility. Clinical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Lanett ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the balance of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Lanett home. This is especially convenient for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are often less costly than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be decreased as well. But just as with any sonographer college you are looking at, check that the online program you choose is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations 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 attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonogram Tech Colleges
After you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Lanett AL area. Clearly location will be important if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are additional factors that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? A large number of ultrasound tech colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to verify that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it might also earn 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. Along with guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Lanett AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the sonogram technician colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Lanett AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Lanett healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Lanett AL home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something 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 might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Lanett AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Lanett Ultrasound Tech Training
Choosing the right sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to launching a rewarding new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for prolonged durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Other helpful talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain levelheaded when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each college you are considering. This is true whether you select an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each program, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your objective to work as a sonographer in Lanett Alabama.