How to Find the Right Sonography College Near Phenix City Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Phenix City AL, the next step is to begin the procedure of selecting a school. First, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the proper training to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you research each program so that you can assess and compare your choices. But just where does one start? Many individuals will start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are offered.
Sonographer Job Description
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as 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 a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Phenix City AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily work duties of an ultrasound tech may involve:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details 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
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require about 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to complete. Another alternative for those who have already obtained 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 related health sector, 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 ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many schools organize through Phenix City AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whatever 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 Phenix City 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 practical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus facility. Clinical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Phenix City ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the rest of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Phenix City home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are many times more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials may be decreased also. But just as with every sonography school you are considering, confirm that the online school you choose is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for certification, licensing 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 degree could be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Sonogram Tech Colleges
After you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Phenix City AL area. Obviously location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional things that you should also take into consideration, for example if the schools are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among 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 undergone a detailed evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it can 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 superior education, accreditation will also help in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Phenix City AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the sonogram technician programs you are evaluating have associations with Phenix City AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Phenix City healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the sonographer programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement 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 substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they select will need to be within driving distance of their Phenix City AL home. Individuals who have chosen 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 concern. Something 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the sonographer school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Phenix City AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Phenix City Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to initiating a gratifying new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for extended time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Other helpful talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when confronted by an angry or anxious 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 college you are looking at. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Phenix City Alabama.