How to Enroll in the Right Ultrasound Tech Course Near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Muscle Shoals AL, the next step is to start the process of selecting a college. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate training to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you research each college so that you can evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one start? A number of students will begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifications will be covered more in detail later in this article. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Work Description
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Muscle Shoals AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work tasks of an ultrasound tech may include:
- 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 use and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally take around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to complete. Another option for those who have previously received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have obtained 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 just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that most sonographer programs do have a practical training component as a portion of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools set up through Muscle Shoals AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whichever state you elect 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 Muscle Shoals 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 Degrees
As aforementioned, almost all sonogram tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either carried out in an on campus lab or at an authorized off campus facility. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Muscle Shoals ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the balance of the training and classes can be attended online in your Muscle Shoals home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are many times less expensive than on campus options. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be reduced also. But similarly as with any sonographer school you are reviewing, confirm that the online school you select is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Muscle Shoals AL area. Clearly location will be important if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are additional variables that you should also take into consideration, for example if the schools are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? Most ultrasound technician schools have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial to make sure that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly regarded 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 an extensive review of their teachers and educational materials. If the program 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 recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Muscle Shoals AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the sonogram tech programs you are reviewing have associations with Muscle Shoals AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Muscle Shoals health care community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. 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 an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Muscle Shoals AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the ultrasound tech program you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Muscle Shoals AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. 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 Muscle Shoals Ultrasound Technician Training
Selecting the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to starting a fulfilling new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Additional helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain collected when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is the case whether you choose an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal to work as a sonographer in Muscle Shoals Alabama.