How to Pick the Best Ultrasound Technician Program Near Pelham Alabama
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Pelham AL, the next step is to begin the process of choosing a college. First, you must find the ideal program that will provide the proper education to become a qualified professional. And because some states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you research each program in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Most prospective students will start by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location need to be considered when making a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.
Sonogram 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 function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Pelham AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily job duties of a sonogram tech can include:
- 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 cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician students have the option to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to complete. Another option 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 related health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to bear in mind is that almost all sonographer schools do have a clinical training element as a portion of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which numerous colleges sponsor with Pelham AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to comply with the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whatever state you decide 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 Pelham 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 Technician Online Classes
As aforementioned, nearly all ultrasound technician colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at an approved off-campus facility. Clinical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Pelham ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the remainder of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Pelham home. This is especially convenient for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less expensive than on campus options. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech school you are considering, make sure that the online school you enroll in is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes may be the right choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonography Colleges
Now that you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Pelham AL area. Certainly location will be significant if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? Most sonogram tech colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still important to confirm that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly respected 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 undergone a detailed evaluation of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Pelham AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the sonogram tech colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Pelham AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Pelham medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Pelham AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider 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 commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing 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 decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the sonographer college you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Pelham AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Pelham Ultrasound Tech Program
Selecting the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to initiating a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic standards, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are looking at. This holds true whether you enroll in an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Pelham Alabama.