How to Choose an Accredited Sonography School Near Leeds Alabama
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Leeds AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a college. First, you must find the ideal program that will provide the proper education to become a skilled professional. And since some states do require that sonographers 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 research each college in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? A number of individuals will begin by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location should 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 sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Work Description
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Leeds AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily job functions of an ultrasound technician may consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently assess the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to complete. Another option for those who have previously received 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 related medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that almost all sonographer colleges do have a practical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many colleges set up through Leeds AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whatever 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.
Sonographer Online Colleges
As aforementioned, virtually all ultrasound technician colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off campus facility. Clinical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Leeds ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Leeds home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online colleges are frequently less costly than traditional alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be lessened also. But just as with every sonography school you are looking at, make sure that the online school you select is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Schools
Once you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Leeds AL area. Certainly location will be important if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into account, for instance if the schools are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound technician schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still crucial to confirm that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded 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 gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. 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 assist in getting financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Leeds AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram tech schools you are interested in have partnerships with Leeds AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Leeds health care community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Leeds AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally 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 college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Leeds AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Leeds Ultrasound Technician Program
Choosing the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to initiating a gratifying new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy time frames and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Other desirable skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay collected when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each program you are looking at. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal to work as a sonographer in Leeds Alabama.