How to Select an Accredited Sonography Course Near Smiths Station Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Smiths Station AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the necessary training to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do mandate 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 research each program in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? Many prospective students will begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Job Description
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While many work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Smiths Station AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily job duties of a sonogram tech can include:
- 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 cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for further testing
Sonographers must frequently gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for those who have already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have earned a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that the majority of sonographer schools do have a practical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous schools set up with Smiths Station AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate 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 Smiths Station 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 Programs
As earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off-campus facility. Practical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Smiths Station ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the remainder of the training and classes may be attended online in your Smiths Station home. This is especially beneficial for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online colleges are often more affordable than on campus options. Costs for commuting and study materials can be decreased also. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech program you are reviewing, make sure that the online program you enroll in is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for certification, licensing 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 may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Sonogram Tech Schools
Now that you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Smiths Station AL area. Of course location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are other things that you should also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Colleges Accredited? Most ultrasound tech colleges have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to confirm that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it might also receive 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 quality education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Smiths Station AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the sonogram technician programs you are reviewing have associations with Smiths Station AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Smiths Station medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are assessing 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 good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Smiths Station AL residence. Those who have chosen 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 importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Smiths Station AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Smiths Station Ultrasound Tech Training
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to starting a fulfilling new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged time frames and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each college you are looking at. This is true whether you choose an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Smiths Station Alabama.