How to Pick the Best Sonography Program Near Kenai Alaska
Now that 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 school. First, you have to find the right program that will provide the proper training to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you research each school in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Most individuals will start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location should be considered when making a decision, but there are additional important factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Job Description
There are more than one acceptable 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 primary job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Kenai AK hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work tasks of an ultrasound technician can involve:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must routinely assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally require about 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to complete. Another alternative for those 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 relevant medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of sonographer programs do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools organize through Kenai AK hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have 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 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.
Online Ultrasound Tech Classes
As aforementioned, virtually all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Kenai AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the remainder of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Kenai home. This is especially convenient for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online colleges are frequently less expensive than traditional options. Costs for commuting and study materials can be decreased as well. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech 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 particularly important for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes may be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
After you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Kenai AK area. Naturally location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier also. But there are additional variables that you should also take into consideration, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, following 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 technician schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still crucial to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also help in getting financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Kenai AK employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the ultrasound tech schools you are assessing have associations with Kenai AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Kenai medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Kenai AK home. Students who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the sonographer program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Kenai AK area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Kenai Ultrasound Tech Program
Picking the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to starting a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for extended periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other desirable talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain collected when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each school you are looking at. This is the case whether you enroll in an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each school, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your objective to work as a sonographer in Kenai Alaska.