How to Pick an Accredited Sonography College Near Ketchikan Alaska
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Ketchikan AK, the next step is to start the process of selecting a school. To begin with, you have to find the ideal program that will furnish the proper training to become a skilled professional. And since some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you investigate each school so that you can evaluate and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? Many potential students will begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location should be considered when making a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Work Description
There are multiple acceptable 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 primary job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Ketchikan AK hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily work functions of an ultrasound tech can consist of:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for additional testing
Sonographers must regularly assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require 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 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals 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 relevant health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that the majority of sonographer colleges do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many colleges organize with Ketchikan AK hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to comply with the certification or licensing requirements in Alaska or whatever state you choose 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 Ketchikan 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 Colleges
As earlier discussed, nearly all ultrasound tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Ketchikan AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the balance of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Ketchikan home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online colleges are frequently less expensive than on campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But similarly as with any sonography school you are considering, check that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations 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 convenience of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Colleges
Now that you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Ketchikan AK area. Certainly location will be important if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier also. But there are additional factors that you must also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech colleges have obtained some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Ketchikan AK employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the sonogram technician schools you are assessing have partnerships with Ketchikan AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Ketchikan medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the sonographer programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Ketchikan AK residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for 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 want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the sonographer school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Ketchikan AK area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Ketchikan Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the right sonographer degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to starting a fulfilling new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for lengthy time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional beneficial skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each college you are reviewing. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each program, 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, dedication and determination to succeed, you can realize your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Ketchikan Alaska.