How to Pick an Accredited Sonography Program Near Juneau Alaska
Since you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Juneau AK, the next step is to begin the procedure of selecting a college. First, you must find the right program that will provide the proper instruction to become a skilled professional. And given that some 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 certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each school so that you can assess and compare your options. But just where does one start? Most students will begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Description
There are various acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called 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 carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Juneau AK hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job duties of a sonogram tech may consist of:
- Maintaining 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 sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for supplemental 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 sustain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Sonogram technician students have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to complete. Another option for individuals who have already 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 relevant medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous schools set up through Juneau AK hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alaska or whatever 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 Juneau 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 Colleges
As earlier discussed, virtually all ultrasound technician colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on campus lab or at a sponsored off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Juneau AKhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your Juneau home. This is especially convenient for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are frequently less costly than traditional alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be lessened as well. But similarly as with every sonographer college you are reviewing, make sure that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. One of 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 job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Sonogram Tech Schools
Now that you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Juneau AK area. Naturally location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you may want to ask each sonography program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Colleges Accredited? The majority of ultrasound tech colleges have earned some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. One of 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 gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it may also receive 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. Along with guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in securing financial aid and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Juneau AK employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level openings.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the ultrasound tech colleges you are reviewing have associations with Juneau AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Juneau medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Juneau AK home. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the sonographer school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Juneau AK area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Juneau Ultrasound Tech Program
Selecting the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to starting a fulfilling new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Additional preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep 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 program you are considering. This is true whether you choose an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to work as a sonographer in Juneau Alaska.