How to Find the Right Sonography College Near Prichard Alabama
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Prichard AL, it's time to begin the procedure of choosing a college. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will furnish the necessary training to become a qualified professional. And because some states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one start? Many students will start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost must be considered when making a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.
Sonogram Tech Job Summary
There are several professional 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 primary job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Prichard AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job duties of an ultrasound tech can include:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently assess 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 degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the option to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve about 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have previously earned 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 sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many colleges organize with Prichard AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whatever 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 Prichard 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 Colleges
As earlier discussed, nearly all ultrasound tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on campus lab or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Prichard ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the remainder of the training and classes can be attended online in your Prichard home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less expensive than on campus alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be decreased as well. But just as with any sonography program you are considering, verify that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school could be the right choice for you.
Topics to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
Once you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Prichard AL area. Obviously location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification also. But there are additional variables that you must also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound tech schools have earned some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still crucial 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive review of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it may also receive 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. Besides ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Prichard AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the ultrasound technician colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Prichard AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Prichard healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the sonographer programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Prichard AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college 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 don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Prichard AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Prichard Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the right sonographer degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to launching a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Other beneficial skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay calm when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each school you are looking at. This is true whether you enroll in an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each program, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to practice as a sonographer in Prichard Alabama.