How to Select the Best Sonography Training Program Near Kenai Alaska
Once you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Kenai AK, the next step is to begin the process of selecting a college. First, you need to find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate education to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you investigate each college in order to assess and compare your choices. But just where does one start? A number of individuals will begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other important factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and additional 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.
Sonogram Tech Work Summary
There are multiple professional 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 basic 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 example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Kenai AK hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job duties of a sonogram tech can include:
- 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 use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must regularly evaluate the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound tech students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally involve about 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to finish. Another option for those who have already earned 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 field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools set up through Kenai AK hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alaska or whatever 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 Kenai 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.
Ultrasound Technician Online Classes
As earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at a sponsored off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Kenai AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Kenai home. This is especially beneficial for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online colleges are often less costly than on-campus options. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be lessened also. But just as with every sonography program you are considering, make sure that the online school you choose is accredited. Among the most highly respected 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 dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Schools
Now that you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You may first want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Kenai AK area. Of course location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification also. But there are other factors that you should also take into account, for example if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? A large number of ultrasound tech schools have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to verify 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed evaluation of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Kenai AK employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the sonogram technician schools you are reviewing have partnerships with Kenai AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Kenai healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Kenai AK residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the sonographer college you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Kenai AK area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Kenai Ultrasound Tech Training
Choosing the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is an important first step to starting a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged periods and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each college you are looking at. This is the case whether you select an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to practice as a sonographer in Kenai Alaska.