How to Choose an Accredited Sonography Program Near Millbrook Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Millbrook AL, the next step is to begin the procedure of picking a school. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate education to become a skilled professional. And given that 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 investigate each school so that you can assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Most prospective students will begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training options that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Job Description
There are more than one acceptable 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 implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Millbrook AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily work duties of a sonogram technician can include:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must routinely assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound tech students have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finalize. 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 related medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many colleges set up with Millbrook AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whatever state you choose 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 Millbrook 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Schools
As earlier discussed, virtually all ultrasound tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either carried out in an on campus laboratory or at an authorized off campus facility. Practical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Millbrook ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the rest of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Millbrook home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are many times more affordable than traditional options. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be lessened also. But similarly as with every sonographer college you are looking at, check that the online program you select is accredited. Among the most highly respected 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 away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the right choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Tech Colleges
When you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Millbrook AL area. Obviously location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification also. But there are additional variables that you must also take into account, for example if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each sonographer college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech colleges have acquired some form 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 organizations 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 a rigorous examination of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online 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 superior education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Millbrook AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level openings.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the sonogram technician programs you are reviewing have relationships with Millbrook AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Millbrook medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Millbrook AL home. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Millbrook AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Millbrook Ultrasound Technician Program
Choosing the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is an important first step to initiating a fulfilling new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for extended time frames and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional preferred skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is true whether you enroll in an online program or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each college, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Millbrook Alabama.