How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Tech School Near Wetumpka Alabama
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Wetumpka AL, it's time to begin the procedure of selecting a college. First, you must find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate education to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's very important that you research each program in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? A number of students will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location need to be considered when making a decision, but there are other important factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Job Summary
There are several acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Wetumpka AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily job duties of an ultrasound technician can include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Available
Sonogram technician students have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require about 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finalize. 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 related health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many colleges set up with Wetumpka AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to comply with the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you choose 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Schools
As aforementioned, virtually all ultrasound technician colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Practical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Wetumpka ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the remainder of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Wetumpka home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online programs are frequently less costly than on campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials may be lessened as well. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech school you are reviewing, confirm that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
After you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of assessing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Wetumpka AL area. Certainly location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification also. But there are other variables that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? Most sonogram tech colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative to make sure that the program and school are accredited. One of 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed evaluation of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Wetumpka AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the ultrasound tech colleges you are reviewing have associations with Wetumpka AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Wetumpka healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Wetumpka AL home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Wetumpka AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Wetumpka Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to entering a fulfilling new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for prolonged durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other desirable talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep collected when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each college you are looking at. This is the case whether you enroll in an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each school, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Wetumpka Alabama.