How to Choose an Accredited Sonography College Near Bethel Alaska
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Bethel AK, it's time to start the process of selecting a college. First, you have to find the right program that will provide the necessary education to become a skilled professional. And since some states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you research each school so that you can assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? Most prospective students will begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other significant factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Work Description
There are multiple professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although many practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Bethel AK hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily work tasks of a sonogram technician can consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for further testing
Sonographers must regularly assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take about 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to finalize. Another option for individuals who have already earned 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 enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that the majority of sonographer programs do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many colleges set up through Bethel AK clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alaska or whatever 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 Bethel 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 Technician Schools
As aforementioned, virtually all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Bethel AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the rest of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Bethel home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online schools are often less expensive than traditional options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be decreased also. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech school you are reviewing, make sure that the online school you select 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 job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined 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.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
When you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to choose whether you will access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Bethel AK area. Of course location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier also. But there are other factors that you must also take into account, for example if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you need ask each sonography college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech schools have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still imperative to verify 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the college is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in getting financial aid and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Bethel AK health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the sonogram technician colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Bethel AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Bethel medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools 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 substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Bethel AK residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost 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 looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Bethel AK area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Bethel Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the right sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to starting a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Other desirable skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are looking at. This holds true whether you choose an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as a sonographer in Bethel Alaska.