How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Technician School Near Southside Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Southside AL, the next step is to begin the process of selecting a school. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the necessary training to become a skilled professional. And because a number of states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you research each school in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Most students will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be considered when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Work Description
There are multiple 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 primary job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Southside AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily work functions of a sonogram tech may include:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and specifics 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
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must regularly assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree 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 as long as 4 years to finish. Another option for individuals who have previously 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 relevant medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that most sonographer programs do have a clinical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges sponsor with Southside AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to comply with the licensing or certification requirements 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.
Sonographer Online Programs
As aforementioned, virtually all sonogram tech schools have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at an approved off campus facility. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Southside ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Southside home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. Plus online programs are frequently less expensive than traditional alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be decreased as well. But just as with any sonography school you are reviewing, make sure that the online school you choose is accredited. Among 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 disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
Once you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Southside AL area. Obviously location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification as well. But there are additional variables that you should also take into account, such as if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are some questions that you need ask each sonography program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? Most sonogram technician colleges have earned some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still important 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed examination of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Southside AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the sonogram tech colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Southside AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Southside healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the sonographer programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they choose 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 local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Southside AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Southside Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to launching a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for lengthy time frames and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each program you are considering. This is the case whether you select an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each college, you can 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 practice as a sonographer in Southside Alabama.