How to Enroll in the Best Ultrasound Tech Course Near Juneau Alaska
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Juneau AK, it's time to start the procedure of selecting a college. First, you need to find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate instruction to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each school so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one start? Many prospective students will start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost must be considered when making a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this post. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Work Description
There are more than one professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Juneau AK clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work functions of a sonogram tech may involve:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely assess the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degrees Offered
Sonogram tech students have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals 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 relevant health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many schools set up through Juneau AK hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alaska or whichever state you decide to practice 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 Sonographer Schools
As aforementioned, virtually all sonogram tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus facility. Practical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Juneau AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the rest of the classes and training may be attended online in your Juneau home. This is particularly convenient for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online programs are often less expensive than traditional options. Costs for study materials and commuting can be decreased as well. But similarly as with any sonographer program you are considering, confirm that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
Once you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech 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. Clearly location will be critical if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier also. But there are other factors that you must also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech schools have received some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still imperative 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous review of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Juneau AK health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the ultrasound technician programs you are assessing have partnerships with Juneau AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Juneau healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Juneau AK home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing 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 may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to 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 class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the sonographer school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Juneau AK area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours 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.
Choose the Best Juneau Ultrasound Tech Program
Selecting the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to commencing a rewarding new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain collected when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each program you are looking at. This holds true whether you select an online degree or commute to the college 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 proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Juneau Alaska.