How to Find an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Course Near Prattville Alabama
Since you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Prattville AL, it's time to start the procedure of picking a college. First, you have to find the ideal program that will furnish the proper education to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you research each college so that you can assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Many potential students will begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location should be considered when making a decision, but there are other significant factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Job Description
There are more than one 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 basic job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Prattville AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily job tasks of a sonogram technician may consist of:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently assess the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical 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 required to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram technician students have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically require around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to complete. Another option 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 medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous schools sponsor with Prattville AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alabama or whichever 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.
Ultrasound Technician Online Degrees
As aforementioned, almost all ultrasound technician colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at an authorized off campus facility. Practical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Prattville ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the rest of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Prattville home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. Plus online programs are frequently less expensive than traditional alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be lessened as well. But similarly as with any sonographer college you are reviewing, check that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies 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 dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonogram Tech Schools
When you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of assessing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Prattville AL area. Naturally location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier also. But there are additional factors that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you may want to ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to verify that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous examination of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also help in securing 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 graduates of an accredited college for entry level openings.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the sonogram tech programs you are reviewing have relationships with Prattville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Prattville medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Prattville AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for 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 sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Prattville AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Prattville Ultrasound Tech Training
Choosing the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to embarking on a gratifying new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for extended periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Additional helpful skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This is the case whether you choose an online degree or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each school, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Prattville Alabama.