How to Enroll in the Right Ultrasound Technician School Near Gateway Alaska
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Gateway AK, the next step is to begin the process of choosing a school. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary training to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college so that you can assess and compare your options. But just where does one start? Many students will start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician 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 implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Gateway AK clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily job duties of a sonogram technician can include:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician students have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take around 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finish. Another option for those who have previously received 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 field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training element as a portion of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges set up through Gateway AK hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alaska or whichever state you decide 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.
Sonographer Online Degrees
As earlier discussed, almost all sonogram technician colleges have a practical component to their programs. So while you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Gateway AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the remainder of the classes and training may be attended online in your Gateway home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online colleges are often more affordable than traditional options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech school you are considering, make sure that the online school you enroll in is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Schools
Now that you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Gateway AK area. Naturally location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are additional factors that you should also take into account, for instance if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you may want to ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound tech colleges have received some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to confirm that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations 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 examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Gateway AK employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the ultrasound technician colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Gateway AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Gateway health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Gateway AK residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear 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 may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the ultrasound tech school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Gateway AK area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Gateway Ultrasound Tech Program
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to commencing a gratifying new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional beneficial skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each program you are considering. This holds 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 evaluate each program, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Gateway Alaska.