How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Technician School Near Mobile Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Mobile AL, the next step is to begin the procedure of picking a school. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate instruction to become a skilled professional. And since a number of 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 licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? Many individuals will start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education options that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Work Summary
There are several professional 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 procedures on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Mobile AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job duties of an ultrasound tech may consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing 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 determining need for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech students have the option to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to complete. Another alternative for those who have already earned 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 health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges organize with Mobile AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the licensing or certification 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 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.
Ultrasound Technician Online Degrees
As aforementioned, virtually all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus lab or at a sponsored off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Mobile ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the rest of the training and classes may be attended online in your Mobile home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online colleges are often less costly than on campus alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be decreased as well. But similarly as with every sonography college you are looking at, confirm that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies 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 disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonography Schools
Now that you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Mobile AL area. Naturally location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are other variables that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? A large number of ultrasound tech colleges have earned some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still imperative to confirm that the school and program are accredited. One of 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 a rigorous review of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also help in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Mobile AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level openings.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the sonogram technician programs you are evaluating have relationships with Mobile AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Mobile health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job assistance 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 highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Mobile AL home. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often 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 person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech program you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Mobile AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Mobile Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a vital first step to initiating a fulfilling new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for extended time frames and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Other helpful talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each school you are looking at. This is true whether you enroll in an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each school, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Mobile Alabama.