How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Tech College Near Robertsdale Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Robertsdale AL, the next step is to begin the process of choosing a school. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate education to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do mandate 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 extremely important that you research each college in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Many students will begin by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other important factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Job Description
There are more than one professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Robertsdale AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily job tasks of a sonogram technician may involve:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and specifics 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
- Assessing results and determining necessity for further testing
Sonographers must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically require about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to complete. Another alternative for those who have previously received 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 relevant health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to bear in mind is that almost all sonographer schools do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many schools sponsor through Robertsdale AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whatever 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.
Online Sonogram Tech Colleges
As earlier discussed, virtually all sonogram technician schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Robertsdale ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the balance of the training and classes can be attended online in your Robertsdale home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online programs are many times less costly than on-campus options. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be lessened also. But similarly as with every sonographer program you are reviewing, verify that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. Among 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 disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Sonography Schools
After you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Robertsdale AL area. Naturally location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional things that you must also take into account, for example if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? Most sonogram tech colleges have obtained some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still imperative to make sure 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). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the college 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. In addition to ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Robertsdale AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound tech colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Robertsdale AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Robertsdale healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the sonographer programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Robertsdale AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for 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 far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the ultrasound tech school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Robertsdale AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Robertsdale Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to embarking on a gratifying new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Additional helpful talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay levelheaded when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are looking at. This is true whether you enroll in an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each school, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can realize your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Robertsdale Alabama.