How to Select the Right Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Montgomery Alabama
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Montgomery AL, the next step is to begin the procedure of selecting a school. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the proper training to become a qualified professional. And since some states do mandate 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 very important that you research each program so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Many potential students will begin by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Job Summary
There are more than one professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Montgomery AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily job functions of an ultrasound tech may consist of:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram technician students have the option to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take around 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 individuals who have already received 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 medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many colleges set up with Montgomery AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification requirements 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 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.
Ultrasound Tech Online Classes
As aforementioned, nearly all ultrasound tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So while 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. Clinical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Montgomery ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the rest of the classes and training can be attended online in your Montgomery home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are frequently less costly than traditional alternatives. Expenditures for commuting and study materials can be lessened also. But similarly as with every sonographer college you are reviewing, verify 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 especially significant for certification, licensing 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 online classes may be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Montgomery AL area. Obviously location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore 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 ultrasound tech college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still important to make sure that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations 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 undergone an extensive examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Montgomery AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the sonogram tech colleges you are evaluating have associations with Montgomery AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Montgomery medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the sonographer schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Montgomery AL home. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps 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 often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the sonographer college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Montgomery AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Montgomery Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is an important first step to embarking on a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged durations and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional desirable skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each program you are looking at. This is true whether you enroll in an online program or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each school, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Montgomery Alabama.