How to Choose the Right Ultrasound Tech Course Near Russellville Alabama
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Russellville AL, the next step is to begin the process of choosing a school. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will provide the necessary training to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program in order to evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Most prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location need to be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Work Description
There are several 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 basic job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Russellville AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily work functions of an ultrasound technician can consist of:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage 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 identifying need for additional testing
Sonographers must frequently evaluate 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 maintain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Offered
Sonogram tech students have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have already 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 related health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many colleges set up through Russellville AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill 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 Russellville 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 Degrees
As previously mentioned, virtually all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can receive a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off-campus facility. Clinical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Russellville ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the remainder of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Russellville home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. Plus online programs are frequently more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But similarly as with every sonographer program you are reviewing, check that the online school you enroll in 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 certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Programs
As soon as you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Russellville AL area. Obviously location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier as well. But there are other things that you should also take into consideration, for example if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? Most ultrasound tech schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to make sure that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly regarded 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 a detailed evaluation of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets 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 premium education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Russellville AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have partnerships with Russellville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means 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 form professional connections in the Russellville health care community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Russellville AL residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes permit 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 prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the sonographer program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Russellville AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Russellville Ultrasound Tech Program
Selecting the right sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to entering a gratifying new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for lengthy time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional desirable skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each program you are looking at. This is the case whether you choose an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your objective to practice as a sonographer in Russellville Alabama.