How to Pick the Best Ultrasound Technician College Near Oxford Alabama
Once you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Oxford AL, the next step is to start the process of picking a school. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate education to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Many potential students will begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost need to be considered when making a decision, but there are other significant factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifications will be covered more in detail later in this article. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Job Summary
There are multiple 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 basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Oxford AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work tasks of an ultrasound tech may include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high professional 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 complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take around 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to finalize. Another option for individuals who have previously earned 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 relevant medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to consider is that almost all sonographer colleges do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous schools organize with Oxford AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you choose 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 Oxford 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 Sonographer Colleges
As earlier discussed, nearly all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Oxford ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the rest of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Oxford home. This is especially beneficial for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less expensive than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be lessened also. But just as with every sonographer program you are looking at, verify that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for licensing, certification and job placement (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 school could be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Sonography Schools
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Oxford AL area. Certainly location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are other variables that you must also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound technician schools have earned some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. 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 premium education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Oxford AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level openings.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the ultrasound technician programs you are reviewing have associations with Oxford AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Oxford health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Oxford AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the sonographer program you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Oxford AL area, check that they are offered. 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 have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Oxford Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to launching a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each college you are considering. This is true whether you enroll in an online degree or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each school, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Oxford Alabama.