How to Enroll in the Right Sonography College Near Kenai Alaska
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Kenai AK, it's time to begin the procedure of choosing a school. To begin with, you have to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate education to become a qualified 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 college so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one begin? Many prospective students will begin by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifications will be covered more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Work Description
There are several professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although many work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Kenai AK hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily work functions of a sonogram tech can include:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for further testing
Sonographers must frequently evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Available
Ultrasound technician students have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to complete. Another option for individuals who have previously earned 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 relevant health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that most sonographer programs do have a practical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous schools sponsor with Kenai AK hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alaska or whichever state you elect 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 Programs
As earlier discussed, virtually all sonogram technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either conducted in an on campus lab or at an approved off campus facility. Clinical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Kenai AKhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the balance of the classes and training can be attended online in your Kenai home. This is especially beneficial for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are frequently less costly than on campus options. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be lessened as well. But similarly as with any sonographer college you are reviewing, check that the online school you select is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Technician Schools
Now that you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Kenai AK area. Certainly location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are additional variables that you should also take into consideration, such as if the schools are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are several questions that you need ask each sonographer college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? Most ultrasound tech schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to verify that the program and school 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 undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining 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 many Kenai AK health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have associations with Kenai AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Kenai healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the sonographer programs you are interviewing 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 great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they select will need to be within driving distance of their Kenai AK residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the sonographer program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. 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, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Kenai Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to embarking on a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for extended durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other helpful skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep collected when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each program you are considering. This is the case whether you choose an online program or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each college, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Kenai Alaska.