How to Enroll in an Accredited Ultrasound Tech School Near Opelika Alabama
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Opelika AL, it's time to start the procedure of choosing a school. To begin with, you need to find the right program that will furnish the proper training to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you research each school in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? A number of potential students will begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifications 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 available.
Sonogram Tech Work Summary
There are several acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although many practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Opelika AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily job functions of an ultrasound tech may include:
- Keeping 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 recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must regularly assess the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that level 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 Degrees Offered
Ultrasound tech students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take about 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finish. Another option for those who have already 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 require only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that most sonographer schools do have a practical training element as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools sponsor with Opelika AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the certification or licensing requirements 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 Opelika 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 Degrees
As previously mentioned, nearly all sonogram technician colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted 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 Opelika ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the remainder of the training and classes can be attended online in your Opelika home. This is especially convenient for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are often less costly than on campus alternatives. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But just as with every ultrasound tech school you are looking at, check that the online program you enroll in is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies 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 motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
When you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Opelika AL area. Certainly location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification also. But there are other factors that you must also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? The majority of ultrasound tech schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still important to confirm that the school and program 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Opelika AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the ultrasound technician colleges you are reviewing have partnerships with Opelika AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Opelika healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Opelika AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally 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 the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering 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 decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer college you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Opelika AL area, check 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, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Opelika Ultrasound Technician Training
Selecting the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is a vital first step to launching a gratifying new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for extended periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each school you are looking at. This is the case whether you choose an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Opelika Alabama.