How to Find an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Monroeville Alabama
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Monroeville AL, it's time to start the procedure of picking a school. First, you must find the right program that will provide the appropriate instruction to become a skilled professional. And since some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared 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 choices. But just where does one begin? Many potential students will begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Sonographer Job Description
There are more than one professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Monroeville AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily job duties of an ultrasound technician may consist of:
- Preserving records of patient medical 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
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to finalize. Another alternative for those who have previously earned a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received 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 only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to bear in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous schools organize with Monroeville AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whichever 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 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 Sonographer Programs
As previously mentioned, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on campus lab or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Monroeville ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your Monroeville home. This is especially beneficial for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are many times more affordable than traditional options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech college you are looking at, confirm that the online program you choose is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
Now that you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Monroeville AL area. Naturally location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? Most sonogram technician schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and course materials. If the college is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. 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 securing financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Monroeville AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the sonogram tech colleges you are assessing have associations with Monroeville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Monroeville healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the sonographer schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Monroeville AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on 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 perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Monroeville AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Monroeville Ultrasound Tech Training
Picking the right sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to entering a rewarding new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to meeting academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each school you are considering. This holds true whether you choose an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each program, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Monroeville Alabama.