How to Find the Right Ultrasound Technician Program Near Sylacauga Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Sylacauga AL, it's time to begin the procedure of selecting a college. First, you must find the right program that will furnish the proper training to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you investigate each college in order to assess and compare your options. But just where does one start? Many individuals will begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost need to be considered when making a decision, but there are additional important factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Occupation Summary
There are more than one professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Sylacauga AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily work functions of a sonogram tech may involve:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting 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
Ultrasound techs must regularly evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Available
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to complete. Another alternative for those who have already earned 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 sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to bear in mind is that the majority of sonographer colleges do have a practical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many schools sponsor through Sylacauga AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing requirements 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.
Sonographer Online Schools
As aforementioned, nearly all ultrasound tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either conducted in an on campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Sylacauga ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the rest of the training and classes may be attended online in your Sylacauga home. This is especially beneficial for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online colleges are often more affordable than on campus options. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But just as with any sonographer college you are considering, make sure that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
Now that you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Sylacauga AL area. Clearly location will be critical if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are other things that you should also take into consideration, for example if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each sonographer school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? Most sonogram technician schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial to make sure that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected 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 educational materials. If the school is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Sylacauga AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level openings.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the sonogram technician colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Sylacauga AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Sylacauga medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the sonographer programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Sylacauga AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern 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 program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing 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 final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the sonographer school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Sylacauga AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option 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 as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Sylacauga Ultrasound Tech Training
Picking the right ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a vital first step to embarking on a fulfilling new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for prolonged time frames and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other beneficial skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This holds 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 assess each program, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Sylacauga Alabama.