How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Training Program Near Orange Beach Alabama
Since you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Orange Beach AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the appropriate instruction to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each school so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Many students will start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this article. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Occupation Summary
There are multiple acceptable 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 primary job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Orange Beach AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job duties of an ultrasound technician can consist of:
- Keeping records of patient medical 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 re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently assess the safety and performance of their machines. 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 mandated to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to finish. Another alternative for individuals who have already earned 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 just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many colleges set up through Orange Beach AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the licensing or certification 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 Orange Beach 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.
Online Ultrasound Technician Programs
As earlier discussed, nearly all sonogram tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off campus facility. Clinical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Orange Beach ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the rest of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Orange Beach home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are often more affordable than traditional alternatives. Costs for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But just as with any sonographer program you are reviewing, check that the online program you choose is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Sonography Schools
After you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you will attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Orange Beach AL area. Of course location will be important if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other factors that you should also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each sonography college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? Most sonogram technician colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still imperative to make sure that the school and program 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 gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies 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 assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Orange Beach AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the sonogram technician programs you are assessing have partnerships with Orange Beach AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Orange Beach healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the sonographer programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Orange Beach AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry 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 decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student 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 talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the sonographer program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Orange Beach AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Orange Beach Ultrasound Technician Program
Selecting the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to entering a gratifying new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for extended durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Other desirable skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each program you are looking at. This holds true whether you choose an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each program, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can realize your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Orange Beach Alabama.