How to Choose the Right Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Tuscumbia Alabama
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Tuscumbia AL, the next step is to start the process of selecting a school. First, you have to find the right program that will provide the appropriate education to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you research each program so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? A number of prospective students will begin by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location need to 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 offer internships. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Job Summary
There are more than one professional 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 description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although many practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Tuscumbia AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily work functions of a sonogram technician can involve:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must routinely gauge 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 remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Sonogram technician students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take around 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to complete. Another alternative for individuals who have previously obtained 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 medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that almost all sonographer programs do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools sponsor with Tuscumbia AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whichever state you elect 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 Tuscumbia 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.
Sonographer Online Degrees
As earlier discussed, virtually all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Tuscumbia ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the remainder of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Tuscumbia home. This is especially beneficial for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online programs are often less expensive than traditional options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be reduced also. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech college you are considering, check that the online school you select is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
After you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You may first want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Tuscumbia AL area. Certainly location will be significant if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into account, for instance if the schools are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? Most sonogram tech schools have received some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Tuscumbia AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the sonogram technician schools you are interested in have associations with Tuscumbia AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Tuscumbia medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Tuscumbia AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend online classes 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 choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical 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 decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the sonographer program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Tuscumbia AL area, make certain that they are available. 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 need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Tuscumbia Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to initiating a rewarding new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged durations and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each school you are reviewing. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each school, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Tuscumbia Alabama.