How to Select an Accredited Sonography School Near Prattville Alabama
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Prattville AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a college. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the proper training to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you research each college so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Many potential students will start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional important factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internships. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Job Description
There are several acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Prattville AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily work duties of an ultrasound technician may include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for further testing
Sonographers must frequently gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech students 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 finish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer 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 sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that the majority of sonographer schools do have a clinical training element as a portion of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many colleges sponsor through Prattville AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whichever 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 Prattville 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 Schools
As previously mentioned, nearly all sonogram technician schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Clinical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Prattville ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the remainder of the training and classes can be attended online in your Prattville home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online programs are many times less costly than on campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But just as with any sonographer school you are considering, make sure that the online school you select 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 finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
When you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Prattville AL area. Naturally location will be important if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are other things that you must also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? The majority of ultrasound tech colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to make sure that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous review of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Prattville AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram technician colleges you are reviewing have associations with Prattville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Prattville healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the sonographer schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Prattville AL home. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need 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 are the Class Sizes ? 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 prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Prattville AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative 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 may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Prattville Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to launching a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other beneficial talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep levelheaded 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 a number of questions that you need to ask each college you are looking at. This holds true whether you select an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each college, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as a sonographer in Prattville Alabama.