How to Enroll in an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Program Near Wetumpka Alabama
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Wetumpka AL, the next step is to start the process of selecting a school. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the proper education to become a skilled professional. And since 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 certification or licensing examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college in order to evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Most individuals will begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost need to be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other critical factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training options that are available.
Sonographer Job Summary
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as 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 perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Wetumpka AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work tasks of an ultrasound technician may include:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying need for additional testing
Sonographers must frequently assess the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Available
Sonogram technician students have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to complete. Another option for individuals who have already earned a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have obtained 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 take only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training element as a portion of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools sponsor with Wetumpka AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites 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 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.
Online Sonographer Programs
As earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Clinical training can typically be satisfied through 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 particularly convenient for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online colleges are often less expensive than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be reduced also. But similarly as with every sonographer college you are considering, verify that the online school you choose is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
Once you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You may first want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Wetumpka AL area. Obviously location will be important if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are additional factors that you should also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to make sure that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations 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 undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Wetumpka AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the ultrasound technician schools you are reviewing have relationships with Wetumpka AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Wetumpka medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing 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 good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Wetumpka AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear 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 may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Wetumpka AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Wetumpka Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to starting a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Other preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are reviewing. This is the case whether you select an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each school, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Wetumpka Alabama.