How to Pick the Best Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Kodiak Alaska
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Kodiak AK, the next step is to begin the procedure of choosing a college. First, you must find the ideal program that will provide the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each college so that you can evaluate and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Many students will start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location need to be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Description
There are several acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing 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 work in Kodiak AK clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job duties of a sonogram technician may involve:
- Keeping records of patient medical 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
- Assessing results and determining necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound tech students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have already obtained 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 enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that the majority of sonographer colleges do have a clinical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges sponsor through Kodiak AK hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alaska or whatever state you decide 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 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.
Ultrasound Tech Online Colleges
As earlier discussed, nearly all ultrasound tech colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus facility. Practical training can typically be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Kodiak AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the balance of the classes and training can be attended online in your Kodiak home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are many times more affordable than on campus options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But similarly as with every sonography college you are considering, check that the online school you select is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
Once you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Kodiak AK area. Naturally 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 other things that you should also take into account, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each sonography program before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to confirm that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also help in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Kodiak AK health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the sonogram technician schools you are interested in have relationships with Kodiak AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Kodiak health care community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the sonographer schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Kodiak AK residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps 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 typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher 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 a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Kodiak AK area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Kodiak Ultrasound Technician Program
Enrolling in the right sonographer degree or certificate program is a vital first step to entering a fulfilling new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged time frames with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay levelheaded when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each school you are reviewing. This is the case whether you choose an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Kodiak Alaska.