How to Enroll in the Right Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Opelika Alabama
Since you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Opelika AL, it's time to begin the procedure of selecting a college. First, you must find the right program that will provide the proper education to become a qualified professional. And because some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you investigate each college in order to assess and compare your choices. But just where does one begin? Most prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are offered.
Sonographer Job Description
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Opelika AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job duties of an ultrasound tech may consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for further testing
Sonographers must routinely evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech students have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require about 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 complete. Another alternative for those 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 relevant health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by entering into 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 satisfy the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whatever 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Degrees
As previously mentioned, virtually all ultrasound technician colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus lab or at a sponsored off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Opelika ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the balance of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Opelika home. This is particularly convenient for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online colleges are many times less expensive than on-campus options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But similarly as with any sonographer program you are considering, check that the online program you choose is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Colleges
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Opelika AL area. Naturally location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional variables that you should also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonography school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? Most sonogram technician schools have acquired some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to make sure that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 a detailed evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged 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 securing financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Opelika AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the sonogram technician programs you are interested in have associations with Opelika AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Opelika healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Opelika AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally 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 type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the ultrasound tech program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Opelika AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure 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
Picking the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a vital first step to entering a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for extended periods and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Additional beneficial talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each school you are reviewing. This is the case whether you choose an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each school, you will be able to 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 realize your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Opelika Alabama.