How to Choose the Right Sonography College Near Tuskegee Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Tuskegee AL, it's time to start the procedure of picking a college. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will furnish the appropriate instruction to become a qualified professional. And since some states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each college in order to evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Many individuals will begin by searching for colleges 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 significant factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education options that are offered.
Sonographer Job Description
There are multiple professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Tuskegee AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily job tasks of a sonogram technician can include:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Available
Sonogram tech students have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to complete. Another option for individuals who have previously earned 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 relevant health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of sonographer colleges do have a practical training element as part of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many colleges sponsor through Tuskegee AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whichever state you decide 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 Tuskegee 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 Sonogram Tech Degrees
As aforementioned, almost all ultrasound technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on campus lab or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Tuskegee ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the remainder of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Tuskegee home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online colleges are many times more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But just as with any sonographer school you are reviewing, confirm that the online program you choose is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Sonography Colleges
Once you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of assessing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Tuskegee AL area. Naturally location will be important if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification as well. But there are additional things that you should also take into consideration, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician colleges have acquired some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative 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). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed review of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies 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 frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Tuskegee AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the sonogram technician colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Tuskegee AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Tuskegee medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the sonographer schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Tuskegee AL residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry 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 school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have 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 Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average 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 talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Tuskegee AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Tuskegee Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to initiating a gratifying new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged periods and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Additional helpful talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain levelheaded when faced with 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 a number of questions that you need to ask each college you are looking at. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each school, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Tuskegee Alabama.