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How to Choose the Right Ultrasound Technician Training Program Near Juneau Alaska

sonography exam of pregnant woman in Juneau AlaskaOnce you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Juneau AK, the next step is to begin the process of selecting a school. First, you have to find the right program that will provide the proper instruction to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? A number of individuals will begin by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this article. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training options that are offered.

Ultrasound Technician Work Description

Juneau Alaska ultrasound technician examining young woman

There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as 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 perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Juneau AK clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work duties of a sonogram technician may involve:

  • Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
  • Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
  • Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
  • Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
  • Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
  • Reviewing the results and identifying need for further testing

Ultrasound techs must regularly assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education training on an ongoing basis.

Ultrasound Tech Degrees Offered

Sonogram tech students have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take about 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finish. Another option for those who have previously 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 relevant medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous colleges set up with Juneau AK hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alaska or whichever state you elect to work in.

Ultrasound Technology Specialties

Juneau Alaska woman receiving ultrasound diagnostic test for thyroid tumorUltrasound 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 Ultrasound Technician Schools

Juneau Alaska woman student attending ultrasound technician online schoolAs aforementioned, nearly all sonogram technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Juneau AKhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the rest of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Juneau home. This is especially beneficial for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. Plus online programs are frequently less costly than on-campus options. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be reduced also. But just as with every ultrasound tech program you are considering, confirm that the online program you choose is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal choice for you.

Topics to Ask Ultrasound Technician Schools

When you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Juneau AK area. Of course location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other variables that you should also take into consideration, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you may want to ask each sonographer college before deciding.

Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? Most ultrasound tech schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still crucial to confirm that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous review of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Juneau AK employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry-level positions.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound technician programs you are assessing have relationships with Juneau AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Juneau medical community and assist with job placement.

Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Juneau AK home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small 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 want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program also.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer  program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Juneau AK area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Juneau Ultrasound Technician Colleges

Enroll in the Best Juneau Ultrasound Technician Training

Choosing the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to initiating a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for lengthy durations and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are looking at. This holds true whether you choose an online degree or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each college, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can reach your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Juneau Alaska.

 

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