How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Tech College Near College Alaska
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near College AK, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each school so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Many students will begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost must be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Work Summary
There are various 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 primary job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in College AK clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily work functions of an ultrasound technician can involve:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician students have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to complete. Another option for those 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 relevant 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 the majority of sonographer schools do have a clinical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges set up through College AK hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill 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 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.
Ultrasound Tech Online Programs
As earlier discussed, nearly all sonogram tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus facility. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local College AKhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the balance of the classes and training may be accessed online in your College home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. Plus online programs are often less costly than on campus options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech program you are reviewing, make sure that the online school you choose is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations 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 away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
After you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the College AK area. Clearly location will be important 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 should also take into account, such as if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound tech colleges have obtained some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still important to verify that the program and school are accredited. One of 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 undergone a detailed assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of College AK employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the ultrasound tech programs you are evaluating have relationships with College AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the College health care community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the sonographer programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their College AK residence. Those who have chosen 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 importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often 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 student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost 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 researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the College AK area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right College Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is an important first step to entering a gratifying new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic standards, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for lengthy durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional beneficial skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each college you are looking at. This is true whether you choose an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each program, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in College Alaska.