How to Select an Accredited Sonography Degree Program Near Mobile Alabama
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Mobile AL, it's time to start the process of picking a college. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will provide the proper instruction to become a qualified professional. And since some states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you investigate each school in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? Most potential students will begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Summary
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Mobile AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily job functions of an ultrasound tech may involve:
- 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 testing and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly assess the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those 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 related medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many schools organize through Mobile AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to comply with 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 Mobile 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 Sonogram Tech Schools
As previously mentioned, virtually all sonogram tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can obtain 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 medical care provider. Practical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Mobile ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the rest of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Mobile home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online colleges are frequently less expensive than on campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech program you are reviewing, confirm that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for certification, licensing and finding employment (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 ideal option for you.
What to Ask Sonography Schools
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Mobile AL area. Obviously location will be critical if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification as well. But there are other things that you must also take into account, for example if the programs are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are a few questions that you may want to ask each sonography college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still imperative to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 an extensive review of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also help in getting financial aid and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Mobile AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the sonogram technician schools you are interested in have relationships with Mobile AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Mobile healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are considering 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 great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Mobile AL home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes permit 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 prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Mobile AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Mobile Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the right sonographer degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to launching a fulfilling new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for extended periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Other helpful skills include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This is true whether you select an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to 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 accomplish your objective to practice as a sonographer in Mobile Alabama.