How to Find the Right Sonography Course Near College Alaska
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near College AK, the next step is to begin the procedure of selecting a school. First, you have to find the right program that will provide the proper training to become a qualified professional. And since 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 licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you research each program so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? Most individuals will start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be considered when making a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Summary
There are more than one acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in College AK clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job duties of a sonogram technician can involve:
- Keeping 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 sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly assess the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Sonogram technician students have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally involve around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to complete. Another option for individuals who have previously 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 related medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that most sonographer schools do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous schools sponsor through College AK clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to comply with the licensing or certification requirements in Alaska or whatever 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 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 Ultrasound Technician Schools
As aforementioned, nearly all sonogram tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus lab or at an approved off campus facility. Practical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local College AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the rest of the training and classes may be attended online in your College home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are often less costly than on campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be decreased as well. But just as with any sonographer school you are considering, check that the online school you choose is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated 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.
What to Ask Sonography Programs
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you will access classes online or travel to a school campus in the College AK area. Of course location will be significant if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each sonographer program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? Most ultrasound tech colleges have earned some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still imperative to verify that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly regarded 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 undergone a rigorous assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many College AK employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the sonogram tech programs you are interested in have partnerships with College AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional connections in the College healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they select will need to be within travelling distance of their College AK residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider 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 typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech college you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the College AK area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best College Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the right sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to launching a gratifying new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic standards, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for lengthy durations and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Other preferred talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep levelheaded when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This is true whether you select an online degree or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each school, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in College Alaska.