How to Pick the Right Ultrasound Technician College Near Robertsdale Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Robertsdale AL, the next step is to begin the process of selecting a school. First, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you research each school so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Most prospective students will begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this article. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Job Description
There are multiple 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 carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Robertsdale AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job functions of an ultrasound technician can involve:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Available
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally require around 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals 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 related medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many colleges set up with Robertsdale AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to comply with the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you choose 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 Robertsdale 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 previously mentioned, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Robertsdale ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the balance of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Robertsdale home. This is especially convenient for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online programs are frequently more affordable than on campus alternatives. Expenditures for commuting and study materials can be lessened also. But similarly as with every sonographer program you are looking at, verify that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
After you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Robertsdale AL area. Naturally location will be critical if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification also. But there are other things that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are several questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? Most sonogram tech schools have earned some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still important to confirm that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations 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 undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online 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 quality education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Robertsdale AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are interested in have relationships with Robertsdale AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Robertsdale medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the sonographer schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Robertsdale AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the sonographer college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Robertsdale AL area, check that they are available. 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 enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Robertsdale Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the right sonographer degree or certificate program is an important first step to starting a rewarding new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for extended periods and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional beneficial skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are reviewing. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare 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 right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Robertsdale Alabama.