How to Enroll in the Right Ultrasound Tech School Near Valley Alabama
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Valley AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. To begin with, you have to find the ideal program that will provide the proper 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 preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each school so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one start? A number of students will start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other significant factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this article. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Job Description
There are several 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 primary job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Valley AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily job duties of a sonogram technician may consist of:
- Preserving 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
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order 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 Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take around 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on 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 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 relevant medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to consider is that most ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many schools set up through Valley AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with 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 Valley 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Colleges
As earlier discussed, almost all sonogram technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off campus facility. Clinical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Valley ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the rest of the classes and training can be attended online in your Valley home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online schools are many times more affordable than on campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But similarly as with any sonographer school you are looking at, make sure that the online school you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Schools
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Valley AL area. Clearly location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier as well. But there are additional factors that you must also take into consideration, such as if the schools are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you may want to ask each sonography school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician colleges have acquired some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still imperative to verify that the school and program 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 gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it might also obtain 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. Besides guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also help in getting financial aid and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Valley AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the ultrasound technician schools you are reviewing have relationships with Valley AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Valley medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the sonographer schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Valley AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online 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 consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required 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.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the sonographer college you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Valley AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Valley Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the right ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is an important first step to initiating a fulfilling new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain calm when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each school you are reviewing. This is the case whether you enroll in an online program or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each school, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as a sonographer in Valley Alabama.