How to Enroll in the Best Ultrasound Technician Training Program Near Montevallo Alabama
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Montevallo AL, the next step is to start the process of choosing a college. To begin with, you have to find the ideal program that will furnish the proper education to become a qualified 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 to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you research each program in order to assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? A number of potential students will start by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this article. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Job Description
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Montevallo AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily work duties of an ultrasound technician can include:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Sonogram technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally 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 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals 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 health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training component as a portion of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges sponsor with Montevallo AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whatever 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 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.
Online Sonographer Classes
As earlier discussed, nearly all ultrasound tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can receive a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus lab or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Clinical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Montevallo ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Montevallo home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online colleges are often less expensive than on campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be reduced also. But just as with any ultrasound tech program you are considering, verify that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonography Schools
Now that you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Montevallo AL area. Of course location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification as well. But there are additional variables that you should also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? Most sonogram tech colleges have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still crucial to confirm that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed review of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on 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 obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Montevallo AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the sonogram technician schools you are interested in have relationships with Montevallo AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Montevallo medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Montevallo AL residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several 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 sonographer college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Montevallo AL area, make sure that they are available. 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 procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Montevallo Ultrasound Tech Program
Picking the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to embarking on a gratifying new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have 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 durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other desirable skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay levelheaded when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each school you are reviewing. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each program, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Montevallo Alabama.