How to Enroll in an Accredited Sonography College Near Prattville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Prattville AL, the next step is to start the process of selecting a college. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And because some states do mandate that sonographers 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 investigate each college in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one begin? Most students will start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Job Summary
There are various professional 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 implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Prattville AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job duties of a sonogram tech may include:
- 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
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly gauge the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram technician students have the option to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take about 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for those who have already obtained 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 relevant medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training element as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges sponsor with Prattville AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whichever state you elect 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 Technician Online Programs
As earlier discussed, almost all sonogram tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Prattville ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the balance of the classes and training may be attended online in your Prattville home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online colleges are frequently more affordable than on campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be reduced as well. But similarly as with any sonographer school you are looking at, make sure that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Programs
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You may first want to decide whether you will attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Prattville AL area. Naturally location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification also. But there are additional factors that you must also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you need ask each sonography college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still imperative to confirm that the program and school 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also help in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Prattville AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the sonogram technician programs you are reviewing have partnerships with Prattville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Prattville health care community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Prattville AL home. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. 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 several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the sonographer program you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Prattville AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Prattville Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the ideal sonographer degree or certificate program is a vital first step to initiating a rewarding new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for extended durations and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional helpful skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are reviewing. This is the case whether you enroll in an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each college, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Prattville Alabama.