How to Pick the Best Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Anchorage Alaska
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Anchorage AK, the next step is to start the process of selecting a school. To begin with, you have to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate training to become a skilled professional. And given that a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, 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 college so that you can assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Most individuals will begin by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be considered when making a decision, but there are other important factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Job Summary
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 primary job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While many work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily work tasks of a sonogram tech can include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for additional testing
Sonographers must regularly gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Available
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve about 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have previously received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous schools set up with Anchorage AK hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the licensing or certification 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.
Sonographer Online Programs
As aforementioned, virtually all sonogram tech colleges 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 held in an on-campus lab or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Clinical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Anchorage AKhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the rest of the classes and training can be attended online in your Anchorage home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online colleges are frequently less expensive than on campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be lessened also. But similarly as with any sonographer college you are looking at, make sure that the online school you choose is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Schools
Now that you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Anchorage AK area. Obviously location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional things that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you may want to ask each sonographer school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to confirm that the program and school are accredited. One of 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed assessment 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 quality education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Anchorage AK employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the sonogram technician programs you are reviewing have relationships with Anchorage AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Anchorage healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Anchorage AK residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally 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 choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically 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 prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical 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 converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Anchorage AK area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Anchorage Ultrasound Tech Program
Enrolling in the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to embarking on a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional preferred skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain levelheaded 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 multiple questions that you should ask each school you are reviewing. This holds true whether you enroll in an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Anchorage Alaska.