How to Find the Best Sonography School Near Kenai Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Kenai AK, the next step is to start the process of picking a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will provide the proper training to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you investigate each college in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? A number of individuals will begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Work Description
There are various acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Kenai AK clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work functions of a sonogram technician may include:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Sonogram tech students have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require about 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many colleges set up with Kenai AK clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification requirements 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 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Colleges
As aforementioned, nearly all ultrasound tech colleges have a clinical 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 approved off campus facility. Practical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Kenai AKhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the balance of the classes and training can be attended online in your Kenai home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less expensive than on-campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be lessened as well. But similarly as with any sonography program you are considering, check that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
When you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Kenai AK area. Clearly location will be important if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier as well. But there are other factors that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you need ask each sonography school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound technician schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to confirm that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations 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 detailed examination of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance 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 getting financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Kenai AK health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have associations with Kenai AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Kenai healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the sonographer programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Kenai AK residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep 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 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 student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the sonographer program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Kenai AK area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check 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 work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Kenai Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the right ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is an important first step to embarking on a rewarding new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are considering. 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 compare each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Kenai Alaska.