How to Select an Accredited Sonography Program Near College Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near College AK, the next step is to start the procedure of picking a school. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will furnish the appropriate education to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you research each program so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Most students will start by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Sonographer Work Summary
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in College AK clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily work duties of a sonogram technician may consist of:
- 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 use and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require around 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have previously received 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 related medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that almost all sonographer schools do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many colleges sponsor through College AK clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alaska or whichever state you choose 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 College 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 Programs
As previously mentioned, nearly all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at an authorized off campus facility. Practical training can typically be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local College AKhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be attended online in your College home. This is especially convenient for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online colleges are many times less expensive than on campus options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But just as with every ultrasound tech school you are reviewing, confirm that the online school you ultimately pick 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 job placement (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 online classes could be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Schools
Now that you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the College AK area. Obviously location will be significant if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonographer college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound tech schools have obtained some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial to confirm 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). Programs receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed examination of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of College AK employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the sonogram tech programs you are reviewing have relationships with College AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the College health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will need to be within driving distance of their College AK residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern 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 decide to enroll in a college 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 generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical 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 a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the ultrasound tech college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the College AK area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right College Ultrasound Tech Training
Enrolling in the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is a vital first step to embarking on a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for extended durations and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Other helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to stay collected when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is the case whether you select an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each school, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in College Alaska.