How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Sylacauga Alabama
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Sylacauga AL, the next step is to start the process of picking a college. First, you need to find the right program that will provide the proper instruction to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do mandate 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 research each program so that you can evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one start? Many students will begin by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location need to be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this post. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Job Description
There are various acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called 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 perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Sylacauga AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work duties of a sonogram tech may consist of:
- Keeping records of patient case 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 recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for supplemental 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 health practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech students have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finalize. Another option for those who have previously earned a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have earned 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 take only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that most sonographer schools do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many schools sponsor with Sylacauga AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whichever 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 Sonographer Schools
As earlier discussed, nearly all sonogram tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus facility. Clinical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Sylacauga ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the remainder of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Sylacauga home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are frequently less expensive than on campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be lessened also. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech school you are reviewing, verify 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 especially crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (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 online classes may be the right choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Technician Schools
As soon as you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech schools. You may first want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Sylacauga AL area. Naturally location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification also. But there are other variables that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you need ask each sonographer college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to verify that the program and school are accredited. Among 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 receiving 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 focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Sylacauga AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the ultrasound tech colleges you are assessing have associations with Sylacauga AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Sylacauga health care community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the sonographer programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Sylacauga AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally 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 consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually 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 class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student 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 a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the sonographer college you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Sylacauga AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Sylacauga Ultrasound Technician Training
Selecting the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to initiating a fulfilling new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged time frames and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional desirable skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each school you are looking at. This is true whether you select an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each college, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Sylacauga Alabama.