How to Choose the Right Sonography Program Near Ketchikan Alaska
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Ketchikan AK, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. First, you have to find the right program that will provide the proper education to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you research each program in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one begin? Most individuals will begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location should be considered when making a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Work Summary
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called 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 carry out diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Ketchikan AK clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily work duties of an ultrasound tech can consist of:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must routinely gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education training on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Offered
Sonogram technician students have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take around 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finalize. Another alternative for those who have already 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 related health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to bear in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges organize through Ketchikan AK hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to comply with the licensing or certification requirements in Alaska or whatever state you decide 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 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 Sonogram Tech Colleges
As earlier discussed, nearly all sonogram technician colleges have a practical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an approved off campus facility. Clinical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Ketchikan AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your Ketchikan home. This is especially beneficial for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online schools are frequently less expensive than on campus options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be lessened as well. But similarly as with any sonography program you are reviewing, verify that the online program you choose is accredited. Among the most highly respected 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 away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
Once you have decided on which degree or certificate 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 will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Ketchikan AK area. Clearly location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification also. But there are other things that you must also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? Most ultrasound technician schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also help in securing financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Ketchikan AK health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the sonogram technician programs you are reviewing have partnerships with Ketchikan AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Ketchikan healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech 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 sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Ketchikan AK residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering 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 determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Ketchikan AK area, make sure that they are available. 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, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Ketchikan Ultrasound Technician Program
Selecting the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to starting a gratifying new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Other helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate 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 holds true whether you select an online program or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each college, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can realize your objective to work as an ultrasound tech in Ketchikan Alaska.