How to Select the Best Ultrasound Tech Program Near Monroeville Alabama
Once you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Monroeville AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. First, you need to find the right program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a skilled professional. And since 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 licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one begin? Most prospective students will begin by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Summary
There are various professional 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 basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Monroeville AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job duties of a sonogram tech can consist of:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech students have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally require around 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to complete. Another option for individuals 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 medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous schools organize with Monroeville AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alabama or whatever state you elect 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 Monroeville 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 Technician Classes
As aforementioned, virtually all sonogram technician colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at a sponsored off campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Monroeville ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the remainder of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Monroeville home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online programs are often less costly than traditional options. Costs for study materials and commuting may be decreased also. But similarly as with any sonographer school you are reviewing, make sure 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 licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Sonogram Tech Schools
Now that you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Monroeville AL area. Of course location will be important if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier also. But there are additional things that you should also take into account, such as if the programs are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among 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 gone through an extensive examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Monroeville AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level openings.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the sonogram tech colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Monroeville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Monroeville medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Monroeville AL home. Students 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 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 often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Monroeville AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Monroeville Ultrasound Technician Program
Selecting the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to embarking on a rewarding new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for lengthy durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Other preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each college you are looking at. This is the case whether you choose an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Monroeville Alabama.