How to Choose the Best Sonography School Near Theodore Alabama
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Theodore AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a college. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And since some states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each program so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Many potential students will begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Summary
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Theodore AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job duties of an ultrasound tech may include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely assess the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical 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 required to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Available
Sonogram tech students have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve about 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to complete. Another alternative for individuals who have previously obtained 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 require only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that almost all sonographer colleges do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous schools set up with Theodore AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill 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 Theodore 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Programs
As earlier discussed, nearly all sonogram tech colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on campus laboratory or at an authorized off campus facility. Practical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Theodore ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the rest of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Theodore home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are frequently less expensive than on campus options. Costs for study materials and commuting can be lessened also. But just as with any sonography school you are reviewing, check that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You may first want to decide whether you will access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Theodore AL area. Clearly location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier also. But there are other things that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonographer college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Schools Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech schools have obtained some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still imperative to verify that the school and program 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it may also obtain 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 ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Theodore AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the sonogram tech colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Theodore AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Theodore healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the sonographer schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Theodore AL residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally 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.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering 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 decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Theodore AL area, make sure that they are available. 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 have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Theodore Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a vital first step to initiating a rewarding new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for extended time frames and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Other helpful skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay 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 reviewing. This is true 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 assess each program, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as a sonographer in Theodore Alabama.