How to Find an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Troy Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Troy AL, it's time to start the process of picking a college. First, you need to find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate instruction to become a skilled professional. And given that a number of states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Many students will begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location should be considered when making a decision, but there are other important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training options that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Job Summary
There are several acceptable 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 primary job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Troy AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily job tasks of a sonogram technician may involve:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must frequently assess the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Available
Ultrasound technician students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to complete. Another alternative for individuals who have already received 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 medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training element as part of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous schools organize with Troy AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites 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 Troy 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.
Ultrasound Technician Online Programs
As aforementioned, nearly all sonogram technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on campus lab or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Troy ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your Troy home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less costly than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be lessened as well. But just as with every ultrasound tech college you are looking at, confirm that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Technician Schools
When 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 sonogram tech schools. You may first want to decide whether you will attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Troy AL area. Of course location will be important if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification also. But there are other variables that you must also take into consideration, such as if the schools 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 a few questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? Most sonogram technician schools have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still important to verify that the program and school 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 gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Troy AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level positions.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the ultrasound tech colleges you are interested in have relationships with Troy AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Troy medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Troy AL home. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college 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 often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Troy AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative 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 may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Troy Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to launching a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged time frames with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Other helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay calm when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each school you are considering. This is the case whether you enroll in an online program or commute to the college 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 program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as a sonographer in Troy Alabama.