How to Select the Best Ultrasound Technician Course Near Anchorage Alaska
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Anchorage AK, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. First, you need to find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do require 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 very important that you investigate each college so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Many students will begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost need to be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Job Summary
There are more than one acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job duties of a sonogram tech can consist of:
- 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 re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram technician enrollees have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finish. Another option for individuals 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 relevant health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that almost all sonographer schools do have a practical training element as a portion of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many colleges sponsor through Anchorage AK hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alaska or whichever state you decide 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 Classes
As previously mentioned, almost all ultrasound technician colleges have a practical component to their programs. So while you can obtain 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 medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Anchorage AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Anchorage home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online schools are often more affordable than on campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But just as with any ultrasound tech school you are looking at, confirm that the online program 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 particularly significant for licensing, certification 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 an online degree could be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonogram Tech Schools
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Anchorage AK area. Obviously location will be significant if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are additional variables that you should also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each sonographer college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still important 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous review of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Anchorage AK health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have relationships with Anchorage AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Anchorage health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Anchorage AK residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry 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 perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small 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 want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the sonographer college you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Anchorage AK area, confirm that they are available. 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, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Anchorage Ultrasound Tech Training
Choosing the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to commencing a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Additional beneficial skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious 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 looking at. This holds true whether you enroll in an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Anchorage Alaska.