How to Choose the Right Ultrasound Technician School Near Roanoke Alabama
Once you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Roanoke AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. First, you must find the right program that will furnish the appropriate education to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each college in order to evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? A number of potential students will start by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost must be considered when making a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training options that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Job Summary
There are more than one professional 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 perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Roanoke AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job functions of a sonogram tech may involve:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining need for further testing
Sonographers must regularly assess the performance and safety 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 stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take 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 alternative for individuals who have previously obtained 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 relevant medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to bear in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many schools sponsor with Roanoke AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whatever state you elect 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 Roanoke 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, virtually all sonogram tech schools have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at a sponsored off campus facility. Clinical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Roanoke ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the rest of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Roanoke home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are many times less expensive than on campus options. Costs for commuting and study materials may be decreased as well. But just as with every ultrasound tech school you are looking at, check that the online school you choose is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for certification, licensing 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 may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you will access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Roanoke AL area. Clearly location will be important if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification also. But there are other variables that you must also take into account, for example if the schools are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you need ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech schools have earned some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still important 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive evaluation of their instructors 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 learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Roanoke AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the sonogram tech schools you are interested in have partnerships with Roanoke AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Roanoke medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the sonographer schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Roanoke AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. 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 converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the ultrasound tech program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Roanoke AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Roanoke Ultrasound Tech Program
Picking the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to launching a gratifying new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged time frames and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Other preferred talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each school you are looking at. This is the case whether you enroll in an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each school, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Roanoke Alabama.