How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Sylacauga Alabama
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Sylacauga AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Most students will begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location need to be considered when making a decision, but there are other important factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internships. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Job Description
There are multiple acceptable 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. Although many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Sylacauga AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work functions of a sonogram tech can include:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally require around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals 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 relevant health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that most ultrasound technician programs do have a practical 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 through Sylacauga AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you choose to practice 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 Sylacauga 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 Ultrasound Tech Degrees
As earlier discussed, almost all sonogram tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on campus lab or at an authorized off-campus facility. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Sylacauga ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the balance of the training and classes can be attended online in your Sylacauga home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online programs are often less costly than on campus options. Costs for study materials and commuting can be reduced also. But just as with every sonography college you are reviewing, confirm that the online school you select 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 motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonogram Tech Schools
When you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Sylacauga AL area. Obviously location will be important if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification also. But there are other variables that you should also take into consideration, such as if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to confirm that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed evaluation of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on 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 guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in getting financial aid and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Sylacauga AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the sonogram tech colleges you are assessing have associations with Sylacauga AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Sylacauga health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the sonographer programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Sylacauga AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Sylacauga AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Sylacauga Ultrasound Technician Program
Selecting the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to embarking on a gratifying new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional helpful talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are looking at. This is the case whether you select an online degree or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each college, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Sylacauga Alabama.