How to Enroll in the Best Sonography College Near Oxford Alabama
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Oxford AL, it's time to begin the procedure of choosing a school. First, you must find the right program that will furnish the necessary education to become a skilled professional. And since 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 research each program in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? A number of students will begin by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Summary
There are several professional 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 function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Oxford AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job tasks of a sonogram technician can involve:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for further testing
Sonographers must regularly assess the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally involve about 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to finalize. Another option 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 related health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that most sonographer programs do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many colleges set up through Oxford AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whatever state you decide 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.
Ultrasound Tech Online Programs
As aforementioned, nearly all ultrasound tech 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 an approved off campus facility. Practical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Oxford ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be attended online in your Oxford home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are frequently less costly than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But similarly as with any sonography school you are reviewing, check that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Colleges
Now that you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You may first want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Oxford AL area. Obviously location will be critical if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification also. But there are other variables that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the schools are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? Most sonogram technician colleges have obtained some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative to make sure that the program and school are accredited. One of 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged 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 frequently not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Oxford AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the sonogram technician programs you are interested in have associations with Oxford AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Oxford medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Oxford AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically 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 student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the ultrasound tech college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Oxford AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Oxford Ultrasound Tech Program
Selecting the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to commencing a rewarding new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for extended time frames and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Other preferred talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are considering. This holds true whether you choose an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate 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 right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Oxford Alabama.