How to Select an Accredited Sonography School Near Leeds Alabama
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Leeds AL, it's time to start the procedure of choosing a school. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will provide the necessary training to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you research each college so that you can evaluate and compare your alternatives. But exactly 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. Naturally cost and location must be considered when making a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Job Description
There are several 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 primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Leeds AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work duties of an ultrasound technician may consist of:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for further testing
Sonographers must frequently assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally involve around 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finalize. Another option for those who have previously 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 take only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to consider is that most sonographer colleges do have a clinical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges set up through Leeds AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you choose 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 Leeds 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 Sonographer Colleges
As earlier discussed, virtually all sonogram tech colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus facility. Practical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Leeds ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the remainder of the classes and training may be attended online in your Leeds home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online programs are often less costly than on-campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials may be lessened as well. But just as with every ultrasound tech school you are looking at, make sure that the online school you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes may be the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Programs
When you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Leeds AL area. Of course location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification also. But there are other variables that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, following are several questions that you need ask each sonographer program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech schools have acquired some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still crucial to verify that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies 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 securing financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Leeds AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the ultrasound tech schools you are assessing have associations with Leeds AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Leeds health care community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Leeds AL home. Those who have opted 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 importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required 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.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the sonographer college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Leeds AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Leeds Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a vital first step to launching a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with meeting academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for lengthy periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this article, there are multiple questions that you should ask each college you are considering. This is true whether you enroll in an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each school, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Leeds Alabama.