How to Pick an Accredited Sonography Training Program Near Lincoln Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Lincoln AL, it's time to begin the procedure of choosing a college. To begin with, you need to find the right program that will furnish the necessary instruction to become a skilled professional. And because some states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you research each school in order to assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Most students will start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location must be considered when making a decision, but there are other critical factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Occupation Description
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Lincoln AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job functions of an ultrasound technician may involve:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for further testing
Sonographers must routinely evaluate the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Available
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve about 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finish. Another option for those who have already obtained 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 instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that almost all sonographer programs do have a clinical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous colleges sponsor through Lincoln AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whichever 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 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 Sonographer Classes
As aforementioned, almost all ultrasound technician colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus facility. Practical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Lincoln ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the rest of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Lincoln home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online colleges are many times less costly than on campus options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be reduced as well. But just as with any sonography school you are considering, confirm that the online program you select is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the right choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Lincoln AL area. Naturally location will be important if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are other things that you should also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you may want to ask each sonographer school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? Most sonogram tech colleges have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still crucial to confirm 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also help in getting financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Lincoln AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry level openings.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the ultrasound technician schools you are assessing have associations with Lincoln AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Lincoln medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the sonographer programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Lincoln AL home. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk 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 last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Lincoln AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Lincoln Ultrasound Tech Training
Picking the right sonographer certificate or degree program is an important first step to launching a gratifying new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with meeting academic requirements, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Other beneficial talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are looking at. This is true whether you select an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each school, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to work as a sonographer in Lincoln Alabama.