How to Enroll in the Right Ultrasound Technician School Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Tuscaloosa AL, it's time to begin the procedure of choosing a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's very important that you investigate each school in order to assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? A number of individuals will begin by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location must be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other important factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Job Description
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. No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily work duties of an ultrasound technician may consist of:
- 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 recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must routinely evaluate 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 degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram technician students have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to finalize. Another alternative for those 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 related medical field, 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 a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many colleges sponsor with Tuscaloosa AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to comply with the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whatever state you choose 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 Tuscaloosa 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 Ultrasound Tech Degrees
As earlier discussed, nearly all ultrasound tech colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at a sponsored off campus facility. Clinical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Tuscaloosa ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the remainder of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Tuscaloosa home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. Plus online colleges are often less expensive than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be lessened as well. But similarly as with every sonographer school you are considering, confirm that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies 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 motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Sonography Colleges
Now that you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Tuscaloosa AL area. Clearly location will be important if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other things that you must also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician schools have earned some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still crucial to make sure that the program and school are accredited. Among 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial aid and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Tuscaloosa AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the sonogram tech programs you are evaluating have associations with Tuscaloosa AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Tuscaloosa health care community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Tuscaloosa AL home. Those who have chosen 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 importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Tuscaloosa AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Tuscaloosa Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to starting a fulfilling new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for extended time frames and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional beneficial skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay levelheaded when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This is the case whether you select an online degree or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each program, 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 reach your objective to practice as a sonographer in Tuscaloosa Alabama.