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How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Program Near Selma Alabama

sonography exam of pregnant woman in Selma AlabamaSince you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Selma AL, the next step is to start the process of picking a school. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will furnish the necessary instruction to become a skilled professional. And since some states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, 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 investigate each program in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? Most prospective students will begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.

Sonographer Job Summary

Selma Alabama ultrasound technician examining young lady

There are several acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although many work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Selma AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job duties of a sonogram tech may consist of:

  • Maintaining records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
  • Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
  • Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
  • Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
  • Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
  • Reviewing the results and determining need for supplemental testing

Sonographers must regularly gauge the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.

Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available

Sonogram tech students have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally take about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for those who have already received 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 health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that almost all sonographer colleges do have a clinical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many colleges organize through Selma AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to comply with the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you choose to work in.

Ultrasound Technology Specialties

Selma Alabama patient receiving ultrasound diagnostic exam for thyroid cancerUltrasound 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 Selma 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.

Sonographer Online Schools

Selma Alabama female student enrolled in ultrasound technician online coursesAs earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound tech colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Selma ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the rest of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Selma home. This is especially convenient for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online programs are often less costly than on-campus options. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be reduced as well. But just as with every sonography program you are considering, confirm that the online school you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the right option for you.

What to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges

Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Selma AL area. Obviously location will be important if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are additional variables that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech program before deciding.

Are the Ultrasound Technician Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech schools have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to confirm that the program and school 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged 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 securing financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Selma AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry level positions.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the sonogram technician programs you are reviewing have relationships with Selma AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Selma health care community and assist with obtaining employment.

Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Selma AL residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide 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 commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.

Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the sonographer  college you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Selma AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Selma Ultrasound Tech Programs

Enroll in the Right Selma Ultrasound Technician Program

Selecting the right sonographer degree or certificate program is an important first step to launching a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for extended periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Other helpful skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each school you are reviewing. This is the case whether you enroll in an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each college, 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 work as a sonographer in Selma Alabama.

 

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