How to Choose the Best Sonography Course Near Phenix City Alabama
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Phenix City AL, it's time to start the procedure of selecting a college. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will provide the proper education to become a skilled professional. And because some states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program in order to evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? A number of potential students will begin by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in depth 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 offered.
Sonographer Occupation Summary
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Phenix City AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work tasks of a sonogram technician can consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying necessity for further testing
Sonographers must frequently assess the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Sonogram technician students have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally take around 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finish. Another option for those who have previously obtained 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 relevant medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training element as a portion of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many schools sponsor with Phenix City 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 whichever state you elect 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.
Online Ultrasound Technician Programs
As aforementioned, almost all ultrasound technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at a sponsored off campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Phenix City ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the rest of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Phenix City home. This is especially convenient for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online programs are many times more affordable than on campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But similarly as with any sonographer program you are considering, confirm that the online program 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 crucial for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
Once you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Phenix City AL area. Naturally location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are additional things that you must also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech schools have acquired some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still imperative 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous examination of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial aid and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Phenix City AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are interested in have associations with Phenix City AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Phenix City medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Phenix City AL home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps 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 normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of 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 undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech college you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Phenix City AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Phenix City Ultrasound Technician Program
Selecting the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a vital first step to embarking on a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with meeting academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for extended periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain levelheaded when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each college you are looking at. This holds true whether you select an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each college, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to practice as a sonographer in Phenix City Alabama.