How to Pick an Accredited Sonography College Near Gateway Alaska
Since you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Gateway AK, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. First, you need to find the right program that will provide the proper training to become a skilled professional. And given that a number of states do require 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 examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? Many individuals will begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Summary
There are various 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 basic job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Gateway AK clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily work functions of an ultrasound technician may consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need 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 health practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degrees Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally involve about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to finalize. Another option for those who have already 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 health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician 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 many schools organize with Gateway AK hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alaska or whatever 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 Gateway 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 Classes
As earlier discussed, nearly all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus facility. Clinical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Gateway AKhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the remainder of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Gateway home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online colleges are often less expensive than traditional alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be decreased as well. But just as with every ultrasound tech school you are considering, make sure that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the right choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonography Schools
When you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Gateway AK area. Certainly location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are other things that you should also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonography program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? Most ultrasound tech colleges have acquired some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to confirm that the school and program 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed review of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Gateway AK health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are evaluating have relationships with Gateway AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Gateway medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the sonographer programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Gateway AK residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor 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 tech program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the sonographer college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Gateway AK area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Gateway Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is an important first step to launching a gratifying new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic standards, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for prolonged periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional desirable skills include technical aptitude, the ability to remain collected when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each college you are looking at. This is the case whether you select an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each school, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Gateway Alaska.