How to Pick the Best Ultrasound Tech Course Near Montgomery Alabama
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Montgomery AL, it's time to begin the procedure of selecting a school. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will provide the proper education to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? Most prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Description
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Montgomery AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily work tasks of a sonogram tech can involve:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Offered
Sonogram tech students have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally involve about 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to complete. Another option for individuals who have already 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 health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many colleges sponsor through Montgomery AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill 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 Montgomery 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 Tech Classes
As earlier discussed, virtually all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either carried out in an on campus lab or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Practical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Montgomery ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the balance of the classes and training can be attended online in your Montgomery home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less costly than on campus options. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be decreased as well. But similarly as with any sonography school you are reviewing, check that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
As soon as 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 tech colleges. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Montgomery AL area. Obviously location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification as well. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are several questions that you need ask each sonographer program before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still crucial to verify that the school and program 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 assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it might also obtain 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 superior education, accreditation will also help in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Montgomery AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the ultrasound tech colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Montgomery AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Montgomery health care community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the sonographer schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Montgomery AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the sonographer program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Montgomery AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Montgomery Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to initiating a gratifying new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged periods and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Other preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep 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 article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each program you are reviewing. This holds true whether you choose an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each school, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Montgomery Alabama.