How to Find an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Oxford Alabama
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Oxford AL, the next step is to start the procedure of picking a college. First, you must find the right program that will provide the proper education to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, 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 program so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one begin? Most students will begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location must be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other significant factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Occupation Description
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Oxford AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work duties of a sonogram technician may include:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound tech students have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally require about 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to complete. Another alternative for those who have previously earned a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received 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 require only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to bear in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which numerous colleges organize through Oxford AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whichever 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.
Online Ultrasound Technician Colleges
As earlier discussed, virtually all sonogram technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus facility. Practical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Oxford ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the rest of the classes and training can be attended online in your Oxford home. This is especially beneficial for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are frequently more affordable than on campus options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be lessened as well. But similarly as with any sonography college you are reviewing, confirm that the online program you select 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 finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Sonography Colleges
After you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Oxford AL area. Certainly location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are other variables that you must also take into consideration, for example if the schools are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician schools have obtained some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still crucial to verify 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). Programs earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Oxford AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the sonogram technician schools you are interested in have partnerships with Oxford AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Oxford medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the sonographer programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Oxford AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry 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 school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the sonographer school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Oxford AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Oxford Ultrasound Technician Training
Picking the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to commencing a rewarding new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for extended periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Other preferred talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are multiple questions that you should ask each school you are reviewing. This holds true whether you select an online program or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each school, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can reach your objective to practice as a sonographer in Oxford Alabama.