How to Pick the Right Sonography Degree Program Near Tuskegee Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Tuskegee AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And because some states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, 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 college in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Many students will start by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this post. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Occupation Summary
There are multiple acceptable 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 description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Tuskegee AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work duties of a sonogram tech can involve:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degrees Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally take about 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to complete. Another option for individuals who have already 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 related medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of sonographer programs do have a practical training element as a portion of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many schools organize with Tuskegee AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you decide 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 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 Ultrasound Tech Colleges
As aforementioned, virtually all sonogram tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at a sponsored off campus facility. Practical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Tuskegee ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the remainder of the classes and training may be attended online in your Tuskegee home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are frequently less costly than on campus options. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be decreased also. But just as with every sonography program you are considering, confirm that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly 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 convenience of your own home, then online classes could be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
Now that you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You may first want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Tuskegee AL area. Clearly location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional variables that you must also take into account, for example if the schools are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to make sure that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations 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 an extensive assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Tuskegee AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have relationships with Tuskegee AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Tuskegee healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the sonographer programs you are assessing 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 corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Tuskegee AL home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something 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 may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering 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 decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the sonographer school you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Tuskegee AL area, check 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 need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Tuskegee Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to initiating a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for lengthy periods and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Other helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is true whether you enroll in an online degree or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each school, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as a sonographer in Tuskegee Alabama.