How to Find the Best Sonography College Near Fairbanks Alaska
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Fairbanks AK, the next step is to begin the procedure of selecting a school. To begin with, you have to find the ideal program that will furnish the proper education to become a skilled professional. And given that a number of states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you investigate each school so that you can assess and compare your choices. But just where does one start? A number of potential students will begin by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other critical factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training options that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Work Summary
There are more than one acceptable 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 function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although many practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Fairbanks AK hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job tasks of an ultrasound technician may include:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must regularly gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally involve around 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to finish. Another option for individuals who have already 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 medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools sponsor through Fairbanks AK clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites 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 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.
Ultrasound Technician Online Colleges
As aforementioned, virtually all sonogram technician colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either carried out 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 Fairbanks AKhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the balance of the training and classes can be attended online in your Fairbanks home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online schools are frequently less costly than on-campus alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be decreased as well. But just as with any sonography program you are considering, make sure that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies 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 dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Sonography Programs
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Fairbanks AK area. Obviously location will be critical if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are other factors that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you may want to ask each sonographer college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? Most ultrasound tech schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies 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 undergone a detailed assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Fairbanks AK health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the sonogram technician schools you are reviewing have partnerships with Fairbanks AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Fairbanks healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs 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 sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Fairbanks AK home. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep 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 typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average 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 an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the sonographer college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fairbanks AK area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Fairbanks Ultrasound Tech Program
Picking the right sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to initiating a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for extended periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each college you are reviewing. This is true whether you select an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each college, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to work as an ultrasound tech in Fairbanks Alaska.