How to Find the Right Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Montgomery Alabama
Once you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Montgomery AL, the next step is to start the procedure of choosing a school. First, you must find the right program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each college in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one start? Most prospective students will start by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this post. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education options that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Work Summary
There are several professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as 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 implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Montgomery AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work functions 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 testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take about 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have previously earned 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 field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to bear in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges set up with Montgomery AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to comply with the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whatever state you decide 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 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 Sonogram Tech Classes
As earlier discussed, almost all sonogram tech colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Montgomery ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the remainder of the training and classes can be attended online in your Montgomery home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are many times more affordable than on-campus options. Costs for commuting and study materials may be decreased also. But just as with any ultrasound tech program you are reviewing, check that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations 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 motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
As soon as you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Montgomery AL area. Naturally location will be important if you decide on 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, for example if the schools are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech colleges have earned some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still imperative to make sure that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Montgomery AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the sonogram technician colleges you are reviewing have associations with Montgomery AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Montgomery health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the sonographer schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Montgomery AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching 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 several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Montgomery AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Montgomery Ultrasound Technician Training
Picking the right sonographer degree or certificate program is an important first step to entering a gratifying new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for extended periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other preferred talents include technical proficiency, 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 article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each program you are reviewing. This is the case whether you choose an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Montgomery Alabama.