How to Choose the Best Ultrasound Technician Course Near Fairbanks Alaska
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Fairbanks AK, it's time to begin the process of picking a college. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will furnish the necessary instruction 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 licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you research each program so that you can evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Most individuals will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should be taken into account when arriving at 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 additional qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Job Description
There are more than one acceptable 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 basic job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Fairbanks AK clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily work duties of an ultrasound tech may involve:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for further testing
Sonographers must routinely evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to complete. Another alternative for those who have previously obtained a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a relevant health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools organize through Fairbanks AK clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements 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 Fairbanks 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 Sonographer Degrees
As earlier discussed, virtually all ultrasound technician colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an approved off-campus facility. Clinical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Fairbanks AKhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your Fairbanks home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online programs are frequently more affordable than traditional alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be lessened also. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech school you are reviewing, check that the online school you choose is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
When you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Fairbanks AK area. Naturally location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification also. But there are additional things that you should also take into consideration, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore 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 program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician colleges have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to confirm 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 gone through a rigorous review of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Fairbanks AK employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram tech programs you are reviewing have relationships with Fairbanks AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Fairbanks medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Fairbanks AK residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something 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 might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher 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 speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fairbanks AK area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option 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 because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Fairbanks Ultrasound Tech Program
Picking the right ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a vital first step to starting a gratifying new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you must be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Additional beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay collected when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each school you are considering. This is the case whether you enroll in an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each college, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as a sonographer in Fairbanks Alaska.