How to Select the Right Ultrasound Tech Course Near Sylacauga Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Sylacauga AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a college. First, you have to find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs 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 extremely important that you investigate each school so that you can assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? A number of students will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must 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 internships. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Work Summary
There are more than one 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 basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Sylacauga AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily job tasks of a sonogram technician may 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 usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for further testing
Sonographers must regularly evaluate the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Sonogram tech students have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finish. Another option for individuals who have already earned 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 medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many colleges organize with Sylacauga AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to satisfy the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whatever state you decide 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 Technician Degrees
As previously mentioned, nearly all sonogram technician schools have a practical 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 laboratory or at a sponsored off campus facility. Clinical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Sylacauga ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the rest of the classes and training can be attended online in your Sylacauga home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online schools are frequently less expensive than on campus options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But similarly as with every sonography college you are reviewing, check that the online school you choose is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Schools
After you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Sylacauga AL area. Clearly location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are other factors that you must also take into consideration, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech schools have obtained some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous review of their teachers and educational materials. If the school 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. In addition to guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Sylacauga AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the sonogram technician schools you are interested in have relationships with Sylacauga AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Sylacauga medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the sonographer programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Sylacauga AL home. Those who have decided 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 decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Sylacauga AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Sylacauga Ultrasound Technician Program
Selecting the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to launching a rewarding new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic standards, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged time frames with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Other helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay collected when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is the case whether you select an online program or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each school, you will be able to narrow down your options 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 Sylacauga Alabama.