How to Pick the Best Ultrasound Technician College Near Kodiak Alaska
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Kodiak AK, the next step is to start the process of selecting a school. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And since some states do require that ultrasound techs 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 very important that you investigate each college so that you can assess and compare your options. But just where does one begin? Most individuals will begin by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this post. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Occupation Description
There are various acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job function, 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. The majority work in Kodiak AK clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily work duties of a sonogram technician can include:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for further testing
Sonographers must routinely evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degrees Offered
Sonogram technician students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require about 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have already earned a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have obtained a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many schools organize with Kodiak AK hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alaska or whichever state you choose 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 Kodiak 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 Ultrasound Technician Classes
As aforementioned, virtually all ultrasound technician colleges have a clinical requirement 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 laboratory or at a sponsored off campus facility. Practical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Kodiak AKhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the balance of the classes and training may be attended online in your Kodiak home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online colleges are many times more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be decreased as well. But similarly as with every sonography school you are reviewing, confirm that the online school you choose is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
Now that you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Kodiak AK area. Certainly location will be important if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are additional factors that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you need ask each sonography college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? Most sonogram technician schools have obtained some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still important to verify that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations 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 a detailed evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Kodiak AK employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the ultrasound technician colleges you are evaluating have associations with Kodiak AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Kodiak health care community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want 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 assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Kodiak 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 concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the sonographer program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Kodiak AK area, verify that they are offered. 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, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Kodiak Ultrasound Technician Program
Picking the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to entering a gratifying new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with meeting academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy periods and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional desirable talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each school you are reviewing. This is true whether you enroll in an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each school, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your objective to work as an ultrasound tech in Kodiak Alaska.