How to Find an Accredited Sonography Degree Program Near Southside Alabama
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Southside AL, the next step is to begin the procedure of picking a college. To begin with, you need to find the right program that will furnish the proper education to become a skilled professional. And given that a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you research each program so that you can assess and compare your options. But just where does one start? Many potential students will start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Description
There are several acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as 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 a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Southside AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily work tasks of a sonogram tech can involve:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must frequently evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Available
Sonogram technician students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically require 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 complete. Another option for those 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 health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which numerous schools organize with Southside AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you choose 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 Southside 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 Schools
As previously mentioned, nearly all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Southside ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the remainder of the training and classes may be attended online in your Southside home. This is especially convenient for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less costly than on campus options. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be reduced also. But just as with any sonography program you are looking at, verify that the online school you select is accredited. One of the most highly respected 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 motivated 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.
What to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
Once you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Southside AL area. Clearly location will be important if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are other things that you should also take into account, 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 arrive at your final selection, following are several questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still imperative to verify that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 undergone a rigorous review of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Southside AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the sonogram technician schools you are evaluating have associations with Southside AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Southside health care community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are assessing 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 good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Southside AL home. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the sonographer school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Southside AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Southside Ultrasound Technician Program
Enrolling in the right sonographer degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to launching a rewarding new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with meeting academic requirements, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for extended time frames and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Other beneficial talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep collected when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this post, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each college you are considering. This is true whether you choose 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 best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Southside Alabama.