How to Pick an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Training Program Near Mountain Brook Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Mountain Brook AL, the next step is to start the process of selecting a school. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary education to become a skilled professional. And because some states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program so that you can evaluate and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? Many potential students will start by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be discussed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education options that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Summary
There are multiple acceptable 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. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Mountain Brook AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily work tasks of a sonogram technician may 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 use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for additional testing
Sonographers must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally require around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finalize. Another option for individuals 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 health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges set up through Mountain Brook AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to comply with the certification or licensing prerequisites 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 Mountain Brook 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 Classes
As aforementioned, nearly all ultrasound tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can receive a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off campus facility. Clinical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Mountain Brook ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the remainder of the classes and training may be attended online in your Mountain Brook home. This is particularly convenient for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are many times more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be lessened as well. But just as with any sonographer college you are reviewing, check that the online school you enroll in is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations 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 disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
After you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Mountain Brook AL area. Of course location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification also. But there are other things that you must also take into consideration, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial to verify 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed examination of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance 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 assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Mountain Brook AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the ultrasound tech programs you are interested in have relationships with Mountain Brook AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Mountain Brook medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Mountain Brook AL home. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching 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 decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the sonographer college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Mountain Brook AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Mountain Brook Ultrasound Tech Program
Enrolling in the right sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to commencing a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for extended periods and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Additional helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each college you are looking at. This holds true whether you select an online degree or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each school, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as a sonographer in Mountain Brook Alabama.