How to Choose the Best Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Ketchikan Alaska
Once you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Ketchikan AK, the next step is to start the process of picking a college. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will provide the necessary training to become a skilled professional. And given that a number of states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you research each college in order to evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one begin? A number of individuals will start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training options that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Work Description
There are more than one professional 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 implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Ketchikan AK hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily work duties of a sonogram tech may involve:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently evaluate the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain 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 option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finish. Another option for individuals who have previously earned 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 related health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that the majority of sonographer programs do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous colleges set up with Ketchikan AK clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites 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.
Sonographer Online Programs
As previously mentioned, nearly all sonogram tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off campus facility. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Ketchikan AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the remainder of the training and classes may be attended online in your Ketchikan home. This is especially beneficial for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are often more affordable than on campus alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be lessened also. But just as with every sonography program you are considering, check that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for licensing, certification 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 online classes may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
After you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Ketchikan AK area. Obviously location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are additional things that you should also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonographer school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? Most ultrasound tech schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still important to make sure 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Ketchikan AK employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram tech colleges you are interested in have relationships with Ketchikan AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Ketchikan health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Ketchikan AK home. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student 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 a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Ketchikan AK area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Ketchikan Ultrasound Tech Program
Enrolling in the right sonographer degree or certificate program is an important first step to entering a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Other helpful talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or commute 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 alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Ketchikan Alaska.