How to Enroll in the Best Ultrasound Technician Course Near Anchorage Alaska
Once you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Anchorage AK, the next step is to start the procedure of selecting a college. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the proper education to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college in order to assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? A number of individuals will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Job Description
There are several acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job functions of an ultrasound tech may consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient medical 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
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. 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 training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally 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 four years to complete. Another alternative for those 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 relevant medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that most sonographer colleges do have a practical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many schools set up with Anchorage AK clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alaska or whichever state you choose 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 Sonogram Tech Schools
As previously mentioned, virtually all sonogram technician colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted 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 family practice. But the balance of the training and classes can be attended online in your Anchorage home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online programs are frequently more affordable than on campus options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be decreased also. But just as with any ultrasound tech program you are considering, check that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Colleges
Now that you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Anchorage AK area. Naturally location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are other things that you must also take into consideration, for example if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? Most sonogram tech colleges have earned some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still important to make sure that the school and program 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). Programs receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed review of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized 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 getting financial aid and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Anchorage AK employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the sonogram technician programs you are interested in have relationships with Anchorage AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Anchorage healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the sonographer programs 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 Alaska healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Anchorage AK home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the sonographer school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to 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 option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask 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 Tech Program
Selecting the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to launching a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for lengthy durations and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional beneficial skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain calm when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each college you are looking at. This holds true whether you choose an online program or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Anchorage Alaska.