How to Enroll in the Best Sonography School Near Wetumpka Alabama
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Wetumpka AL, it's time to begin the procedure of choosing a school. First, you need to find the right program that will furnish the appropriate education to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you research each school in order to assess and compare your choices. But just where does one begin? Most students will begin by searching for schools that are within travelling 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 additional important factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs 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 primary job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Wetumpka AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job functions of an ultrasound technician can include:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Available
Sonogram technician enrollees have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to finalize. Another option for those 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 health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many schools organize through Wetumpka AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to comply with the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whatever 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 Wetumpka 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 Colleges
As aforementioned, almost all sonogram tech colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus facility. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Wetumpka ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the balance of the classes and training may be attended online in your Wetumpka home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. Plus online schools are many times more affordable than on-campus options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials can be decreased also. But just as with every ultrasound tech college you are considering, confirm that the online program you choose is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Colleges
Once you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You may first want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Wetumpka AL area. Of course location will be critical if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are additional things that you should also take into consideration, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonographer college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Schools Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still important to confirm that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations 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 undergone a rigorous assessment of their instructors and course materials. If the college is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations 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 assist in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Wetumpka AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the sonogram technician schools you are interested in have partnerships with Wetumpka AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Wetumpka medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the sonographer schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement 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 students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Wetumpka AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes enable 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the sonographer college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Wetumpka AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Wetumpka Ultrasound Technician Program
Selecting the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to commencing a rewarding new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy periods and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain calm when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this post, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each school you are looking at. This is true whether you select an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as an ultrasound tech in Wetumpka Alabama.