How to Enroll in an Accredited Ultrasound Tech College Near Theodore Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Theodore AL, the next step is to start the procedure of selecting a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will provide the proper training to become a skilled professional. And given that a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you research each college in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? Many potential students will start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be covered 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 programs that are offered.
Sonographer Job Summary
There are more than one acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Theodore AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily work functions of an ultrasound technician may involve:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally require 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 complete. Another option for those who have already obtained 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 related medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that most sonographer colleges do have a practical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many colleges organize through Theodore AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to comply with the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whichever state you elect 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 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.
Online Sonographer Classes
As earlier discussed, virtually all ultrasound tech colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Theodore ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the rest of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Theodore home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online schools are frequently more affordable than traditional alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be decreased as well. But similarly as with any sonography college you are considering, confirm that the online program you enroll in 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 certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined 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 Tech Colleges
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you will access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Theodore AL area. Certainly location will be important if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier also. But there are additional factors that you must also take into account, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are some questions that you may want to ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician schools have received some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to verify that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations 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 gone through a detailed assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized 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 acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Theodore AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the sonogram technician programs you are reviewing have associations with Theodore 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 practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Theodore medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Theodore AL home. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern 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 school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently 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 person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the sonographer school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Theodore AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Theodore Ultrasound Technician Training
Picking the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to commencing a gratifying new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for extended periods and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Other helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each college you are reviewing. This is the case whether you enroll in an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Theodore Alabama.