How to Select the Right Sonography Course Near Juneau Alaska
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Juneau AK, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. First, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate 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 certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Most students will begin by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Work Description
There are more than one 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 primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Juneau AK hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily job functions of an ultrasound technician can involve:
- Keeping 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 recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must regularly gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound tech students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve about 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finalize. Another option for individuals who have already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have earned a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous schools set up with Juneau AK hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to comply with the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alaska or whichever state you elect 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 Degrees
As previously mentioned, almost all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at a sponsored off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Juneau AKhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the balance of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Juneau home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online schools are many times less expensive than on campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be decreased as well. But just as with any sonographer college you are looking at, check that the online school you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Colleges
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Juneau AK area. Certainly location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are other variables that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are several questions that you need ask each sonographer college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Schools Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to confirm that the program and school 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). Programs earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed review of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Juneau AK employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level positions.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the ultrasound technician colleges you are assessing have relationships with Juneau AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Juneau healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Juneau 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 local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear 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 usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Juneau AK area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Juneau Ultrasound Tech Program
Selecting the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to initiating a rewarding new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep levelheaded when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each program you are looking at. This is the case whether you select an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each program, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can realize your objective to practice as a sonographer in Juneau Alaska.