How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Bethel Alaska
Since you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Bethel AK, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will furnish the necessary education to become a skilled professional. And since a number of 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 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? Most potential students will begin by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost should be considered when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internships. These and additional qualifications will be covered more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are offered.
Sonographer Occupation Summary
There are various professional 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 primary job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Bethel AK clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work functions of an ultrasound technician may include:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics 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
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently 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 maintain 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 Technician Degrees Available
Sonogram tech students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to finish. 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 health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that almost all sonographer schools do have a practical training element as part of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many colleges organize with Bethel AK hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alaska or whichever state you elect to practice 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 previously mentioned, nearly all sonogram tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus lab or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Practical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Bethel AKhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the remainder of the training and classes can be attended online in your Bethel home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online colleges are often more affordable than traditional options. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be lessened also. But similarly as with every sonographer college you are reviewing, make sure that the online program you enroll in is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the right choice for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Schools
Now that you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Bethel AK area. Naturally location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonographer college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician schools have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Bethel AK health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram tech colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Bethel AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Bethel medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the sonographer schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they select will need to be within driving distance of their Bethel AK home. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep 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 typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. 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 several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the sonographer school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Bethel AK area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Bethel Ultrasound Technician Program
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is an important first step to launching a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for extended time frames and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Additional preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain levelheaded 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 need to ask each school you are looking at. This is the case whether you select an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each school, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Bethel Alaska.