How to Enroll in the Best Ultrasound Tech Training Program Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Tuscaloosa AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will provide the proper instruction to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each college in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one start? A number of students will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are available.
Sonographer Occupation Summary
There are various 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 function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily work duties of a sonogram tech can consist of:
- Maintaining 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 re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining need for further testing
Sonographers must regularly assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take 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 4 years to finish. Another alternative for individuals who have previously earned a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have earned a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a relevant health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to bear in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many schools sponsor through Tuscaloosa AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whichever state you elect 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 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 Schools
As aforementioned, almost all sonogram technician colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Tuscaloosa ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family 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 keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online programs are many times less costly than on campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech program you are considering, make sure that the online program you select is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
After you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Tuscaloosa AL area. Certainly location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician schools have received some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to confirm that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected 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 gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the college is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Tuscaloosa AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the sonogram technician programs you are assessing have associations with Tuscaloosa AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Tuscaloosa healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the sonographer schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Tuscaloosa AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble 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 college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech college you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Tuscaloosa AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Tuscaloosa Ultrasound Tech Training
Enrolling in the right ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a vital first step to entering a rewarding new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional preferred skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are looking at. This holds true whether you select an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can reach your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Tuscaloosa Alabama.