How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Technician College Near Oxford Alabama
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Oxford AL, the next step is to begin the procedure of selecting a school. First, you must find the right program that will furnish the proper instruction to become a skilled professional. And given that some 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 research each school so that you can assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? Most prospective students will begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Occupation Description
There are several acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Oxford AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily work functions of a sonogram technician may include:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for supplemental 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. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram technician students have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take around 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finish. Another option for individuals who have previously obtained 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 medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to bear in mind is that the majority of sonographer colleges do have a practical training element as a portion of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many schools organize through Oxford AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whatever 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 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Schools
As earlier discussed, virtually all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Oxford ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the remainder of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Oxford home. This is particularly convenient for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are often more affordable than on campus options. Costs for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But similarly as with any sonographer program you are looking at, make sure that the online school 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 crucial for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
After you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You may first want to decide whether you will attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Oxford AL area. Obviously location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are other variables that you should also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonographer school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Colleges Accredited? Most sonogram tech colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to make sure that the program and school 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). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed examination of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also help in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Oxford AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the ultrasound tech colleges you are assessing have relationships with Oxford AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Oxford healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Oxford AL residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing 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 usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Oxford AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Oxford Ultrasound Tech Program
Picking the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is an important first step to entering a fulfilling new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for extended time frames and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Additional helpful skills include technical aptitude, the ability to remain collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each college you are reviewing. This is the case whether you enroll in an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can realize your objective to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Oxford Alabama.