How to Choose the Right Ultrasound Tech School Near Trussville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Trussville AL, the next step is to start the procedure of picking a school. First, you must find the ideal program that will provide the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And because 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 extremely important that you investigate each college in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one begin? Most individuals will start by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this article. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Sonographer Occupation Description
There are more than one 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 primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Trussville AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily work functions of a sonogram technician may include:
- Keeping 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 cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degrees Offered
Sonogram technician 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 accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to complete. Another alternative for those who have previously received 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 related medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs 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 through Trussville AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whatever state you decide 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 Trussville 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 Degrees
As earlier discussed, nearly all sonogram 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 carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off campus facility. Practical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Trussville ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the balance of the training and classes may be attended online in your Trussville home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are many times more affordable than traditional alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be decreased also. But just as with any ultrasound tech school you are looking at, confirm that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
When you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of assessing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Trussville AL area. Obviously location will be important if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification as well. But there are additional variables that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are several questions that you need ask each sonography program before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? Most ultrasound technician colleges have earned some form 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). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive review of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Trussville AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the ultrasound tech colleges you are interested in have associations with Trussville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Trussville medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the sonographer 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 large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Trussville AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally 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 college 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 generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of 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 get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Trussville AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Trussville Ultrasound Tech Training
Choosing the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is an important first step to initiating a gratifying new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged time frames and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional preferred talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each college you are looking at. This is the case whether you select an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each school, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Trussville Alabama.