How to Choose the Right Ultrasound Technician Program Near Ketchikan Alaska
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Ketchikan AK, the next step is to begin the procedure of picking a school. First, you have to find the right program that will furnish the appropriate education to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you research each program so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Many individuals will begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location need to be considered 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 internships. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Sonographer Job Description
There are various acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Ketchikan AK clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily work functions of an ultrasound tech can consist of:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for additional testing
Sonographers must frequently evaluate the safety and performance 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 stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Sonogram tech students have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally take about 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to complete. Another option for individuals who have already obtained 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 field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous schools organize with Ketchikan AK hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alaska or whichever 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Programs
As previously mentioned, virtually all ultrasound technician colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on campus lab or at an authorized off campus facility. Practical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Ketchikan AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the remainder of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Ketchikan home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are frequently more affordable than on campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But just as with every sonography college you are considering, check that the online school 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 crucial for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Sonogram Tech Colleges
Once you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You may first want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Ketchikan AK area. Naturally location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are additional things that you should also take into account, for instance if the colleges 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, following are some questions that you need ask each sonography school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound tech schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to verify that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 examination of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. 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 offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Ketchikan AK health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the sonogram technician schools you are evaluating have relationships with Ketchikan AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Ketchikan healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Ketchikan AK residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Ketchikan AK area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Ketchikan Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is an important first step to entering a fulfilling new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged durations and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Additional beneficial skills include technical aptitude, the ability to remain levelheaded 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 several questions that you need to ask each program you are reviewing. This holds true whether you choose an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Ketchikan Alaska.