How to Enroll in the Best Ultrasound Technician Program Near Anchorage Alaska
Once you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Anchorage AK, the next step is to begin the procedure of picking a college. First, you have to find the right program that will provide the proper instruction to become a qualified 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 research each college so that you can evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? A number of students will begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Sonographer Job Description
There are more than one professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called 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 testing on patients. Although many practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work tasks of a sonogram technician may include:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must frequently assess the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degrees Available
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to complete. Another alternative for those who have already 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 field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many schools sponsor through Anchorage AK hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Alaska or whichever 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.
Online Ultrasound Tech Degrees
As previously mentioned, nearly all sonogram technician schools have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either carried out in an on campus lab or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Practical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Anchorage AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the remainder of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Anchorage home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online colleges are often less costly than on-campus options. Costs for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But just as with any sonography program you are considering, confirm that the online school you ultimately pick 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 licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonogram Tech Colleges
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Anchorage AK area. Of course location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other things that you should also take into account, such as if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each sonography college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech schools have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, 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). Schools earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies 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 help in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Anchorage AK employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level openings.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the ultrasound tech colleges you are assessing have relationships with Anchorage AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Anchorage medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the sonographer programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Anchorage AK residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something 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 need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally 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 prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the sonographer program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Anchorage AK area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out 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 Anchorage Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the right sonographer degree or certificate program is an important first step to embarking on a fulfilling new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for lengthy durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Other preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this article, there are multiple questions that you should ask each program you are reviewing. This is true whether you enroll in an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each school, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your objective to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Anchorage Alaska.