How to Select an Accredited Sonography School Near Montevallo Alabama
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Montevallo AL, the next step is to start the process of selecting a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will provide the proper instruction to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs 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 very important that you investigate each program so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Many individuals will start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost must be considered when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Description
There are more than one 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 testing on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Montevallo AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job duties of a sonogram tech can include:
- Preserving 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
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying need for additional testing
Sonographers must regularly gauge the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Available
Sonogram tech students have the option to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require about 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finish. Another option for those who have previously received 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 just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to bear in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools set up with Montevallo AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whichever 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 Montevallo 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, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus facility. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Montevallo ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the remainder of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Montevallo home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are often less expensive than on-campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be reduced as well. But just as with any ultrasound tech school you are looking at, verify that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the right option for you.
What to Ask Sonography Colleges
Once you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Montevallo AL area. Clearly location will be significant if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional variables that you should also take into account, such as if the schools are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound tech schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to confirm that the school and program are accredited. Among 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it can also earn 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. In addition to guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Montevallo AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the sonogram tech programs you are reviewing have partnerships with Montevallo AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Montevallo healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Montevallo AL residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average student to teacher 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 a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Montevallo AL area, make certain 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 need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Montevallo Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to entering a fulfilling new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged durations and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Other desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each school you are considering. This is true whether you enroll in an online degree or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each college, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as a sonographer in Montevallo Alabama.