How to Pick the Right Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Prattville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Prattville AL, it's time to begin the procedure of choosing a school. First, you have to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate instruction to become a qualified professional. And because some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each school in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? Many prospective students will start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be considered when making a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this post. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Work 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 implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Prattville AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily job functions of a sonogram tech can consist of:
- 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 sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound tech students have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take about 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another option for those 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 sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training element as part of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous schools set up with Prattville AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing 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 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.
Online Sonographer Programs
As earlier discussed, almost all sonogram tech schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Prattville ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the remainder of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Prattville home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are often more affordable than traditional alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials may be lessened as well. But just as with every sonographer program you are considering, verify that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. Among 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 job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Prattville AL area. Obviously location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are additional factors that you should also take into account, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? Most sonogram technician colleges have received some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still important to confirm 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). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed examination of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged 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 acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Prattville AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the sonogram technician programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Prattville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Prattville healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Prattville AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes 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 choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Prattville AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Prattville Ultrasound Technician Program
Enrolling in the right sonographer degree or certificate program is a vital first step to commencing a rewarding new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for extended periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Other desirable skills include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your objective to work as an ultrasound tech in Prattville Alabama.