How to Find the Right Ultrasound Technician 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 begin the process of picking a school. First, you must find the right program that will provide the proper education to become a qualified professional. And because some states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you research each school so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one begin? A number of students will begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Work Summary
There are several professional 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 basic job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Trussville AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily work functions of an ultrasound technician can consist of:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must regularly assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take around 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to complete. Another alternative for those who have already earned 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 sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many schools sponsor with Trussville AL hospitals and clinics. 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 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 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.
Ultrasound Technician Online Colleges
As earlier discussed, almost all sonogram tech colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at an approved off campus facility. Clinical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Trussville ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the remainder of the training and classes can be attended online in your Trussville home. This is especially beneficial for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are often more affordable than on campus options. Costs for commuting and study materials can be lessened also. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech program you are looking at, make sure that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important 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 ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
When you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Trussville AL area. Obviously location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification also. But there are additional variables that you should also take into account, such as if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still important to make sure that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly respected 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 undergone a rigorous examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also help in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Trussville AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the ultrasound technician programs you are evaluating have relationships with Trussville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Trussville medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Trussville AL home. Individuals 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. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering 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 an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the sonographer program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Trussville AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Trussville Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to launching a gratifying new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for extended periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional desirable skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this article, there are multiple questions that you should ask each school you are considering. This is true whether you enroll in an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each college, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Trussville Alabama.