How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Technician College Near Lincoln Alabama
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Lincoln AL, it's time to start the procedure of picking a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the necessary instruction to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you research each program so that you can evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one start? Many individuals will begin by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional important factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Description
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Lincoln AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job duties of a sonogram technician may include:
- Keeping records of patient case 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
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly assess the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take around 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another alternative for individuals who have already obtained 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 relevant health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that most ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training element as a portion of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many schools organize with Lincoln AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy 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 Lincoln 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 Colleges
As earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Lincoln ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the balance of the training and classes may be attended online in your Lincoln home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online programs are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be lessened as well. But just as with any sonographer college you are looking at, confirm 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 particularly important for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
As soon as you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Lincoln AL area. Clearly location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, such as if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonography program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Colleges Accredited? Most sonogram technician colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still imperative to make sure that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive examination of their instructors and course materials. If the college is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Lincoln AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram tech schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Lincoln AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional connections in the Lincoln health care community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the sonographer schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Lincoln AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Lincoln AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses 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 emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Lincoln Ultrasound Technician Training
Selecting the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to initiating a rewarding new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for extended durations and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Other desirable talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are considering. This is true whether you enroll in an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Lincoln Alabama.