How to Pick the Right Ultrasound Tech School Near Phenix City Alabama
Since you have decided to obtain 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 provide the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do require that ultrasound techs 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 investigate each school so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one begin? Many potential students will start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other important factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and other qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are offered.
Sonographer Occupation Description
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Phenix City AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily work functions of an ultrasound tech can consist of:
- Preserving 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 making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for further testing
Sonographers must regularly gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere 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 mandated to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to complete. Another alternative for individuals who have previously received 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 field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that most sonographer colleges do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many schools sponsor through Phenix City AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites 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 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.
Ultrasound Tech Online Degrees
As earlier discussed, virtually all sonogram tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can receive a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off campus facility. Clinical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Phenix City ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Phenix City home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online colleges are many times less costly than on-campus options. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be reduced also. But just as with any sonography college you are looking at, confirm that the online school you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes could be the right choice for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Programs
Now that you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Phenix City AL area. Of course location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are additional factors that you must also take into account, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician schools have earned some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still crucial to make sure 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 a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Phenix City AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry-level openings.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the sonogram technician schools you are reviewing have associations with Phenix City AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Phenix City health care community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs 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 substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Phenix City AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes 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 keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering 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 determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the sonographer school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Phenix City AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Phenix City Ultrasound Tech Training
Picking the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to starting a rewarding new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Other beneficial skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is true whether you select an online program or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each college, you can 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 a sonographer in Phenix City Alabama.