How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Training Program Near Wetumpka Alabama
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Wetumpka AL, the next step is to begin the procedure of choosing a school. First, you have to find the ideal program that will provide the necessary training to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? A number of prospective students will start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are available.
Sonographer Job Summary
There are more than one professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Wetumpka AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily work tasks of an ultrasound tech may involve:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must frequently evaluate 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 sustain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram technician enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time 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 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 just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that most sonographer schools do have a practical training component as a portion of their course of study. 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 degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whatever 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 Degrees
As earlier discussed, virtually all ultrasound technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Wetumpka ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Wetumpka home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online colleges are many times less costly than traditional options. Costs for study materials and commuting can be reduced as well. But just as with any ultrasound tech school you are reviewing, confirm that the online school 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 particularly crucial for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Colleges
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of assessing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Wetumpka AL area. Certainly location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification also. But there are other things that you must also take into account, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you may want to ask each sonography college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician schools have obtained some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still crucial to verify that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations 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 gone through a rigorous review of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations 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 acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Wetumpka AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level openings.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the sonogram tech colleges you are interested in have associations with Wetumpka AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Wetumpka health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the sonographer schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Wetumpka 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 local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Wetumpka AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Wetumpka Ultrasound Tech Training
Enrolling in the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to launching a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other helpful talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each program you are reviewing. This holds true whether you select an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each program, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Wetumpka Alabama.