How to Enroll in an Accredited Ultrasound Tech School Near Anchorage Alaska
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Anchorage AK, the next step is to begin the process of picking a school. First, you must find the ideal program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a skilled professional. And given that a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you research each school in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Most prospective students will start by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this post. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education options that are offered.
Sonographer Work Description
There are more than one 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 basic job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Anchorage AK clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily job duties of an ultrasound technician can consist of:
- 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 usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for further testing
Sonographers must frequently evaluate the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Offered
Sonogram technician students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finalize. Another option for individuals who have already obtained 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 health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which numerous colleges organize through Anchorage AK clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alaska or whatever state you elect to work 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 Anchorage AK 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 Programs
As earlier discussed, nearly all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either carried out in an on campus lab or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Anchorage AKhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the rest of the classes and training can be attended online in your Anchorage home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online programs are frequently less costly than traditional options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials can be decreased as well. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech college you are reviewing, check that the online school you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important 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 convenience of your own home, then online classes could be the right option for you.
What to Ask Sonogram Tech Colleges
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You may first want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Anchorage AK area. Certainly location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification as well. But there are other variables that you must also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you need ask each sonography college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still important to verify that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies 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 examination of their instructors and course materials. If the program 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 acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Anchorage AK health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the ultrasound technician colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Anchorage AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Anchorage medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the sonographer programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Anchorage AK home. Those who have opted 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 concern. Something to consider is that if you choose 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the sonographer program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Anchorage AK area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Anchorage Ultrasound Tech Training
Choosing the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a vital first step to commencing a gratifying new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for extended periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Additional beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each school you are reviewing. This is true whether you choose an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each program, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Anchorage Alaska.