How to Find an Accredited Ultrasound Technician School Near Mountain Brook Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Mountain Brook AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a college. First, you have to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate instruction to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's very important that you investigate each college so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? Many potential students will begin by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be considered when making a decision, but there are other important factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are offered.
Sonographer Occupation Summary
There are various 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 implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Mountain Brook AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job tasks of an ultrasound tech may include:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional 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 complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the option to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to complete. Another option 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 medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training component as a portion of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many schools sponsor through Mountain Brook AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whichever 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 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Schools
As earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can receive a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Mountain Brook ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the remainder of the training and classes may be attended online in your Mountain Brook home. This is especially convenient for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are many times more affordable than traditional alternatives. Expenditures for commuting and study materials can be reduced as well. But just as with every sonography program you are reviewing, confirm that the online school you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial 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 school may be the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Colleges
Now that you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Mountain Brook AL area. Clearly location will be critical if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification also. But there are other things that you should also take into consideration, such as if the schools are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? Most sonogram tech schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still important to confirm that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly regarded 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 instructors and course materials. If the program is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Mountain Brook AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have relationships with Mountain Brook AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Mountain Brook medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high 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 College Located? For a lot of students, the school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Mountain Brook AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering 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 final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Mountain Brook AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Mountain Brook Ultrasound Tech Training
Enrolling in the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to launching a fulfilling new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Other helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are multiple questions that you should ask each college you are considering. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Mountain Brook Alabama.