How to Enroll in an Accredited Ultrasound Tech School Near Kodiak Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Kodiak AK, the next step is to begin the procedure of selecting a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the proper instruction to become a qualified professional. And since some states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each school in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? A number of potential students will begin by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other critical factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Job Summary
There are multiple 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 basic job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Kodiak AK clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job tasks of an ultrasound technician can include:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take around 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to complete. Another alternative for individuals who have previously 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 medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools sponsor through Kodiak AK clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alaska or whichever state you elect 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 Programs
As earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can receive a degree or certificate online, a substantial 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 Kodiak AKhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the balance of the training and classes may be attended online in your Kodiak home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online colleges are often less costly than traditional alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech college you are considering, verify 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 significant for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
When you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Kodiak AK area. Obviously location will be important 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, such as if the schools are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you may want to ask each sonography program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician schools have obtained some type 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 respected 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 examination of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Kodiak AK employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the ultrasound technician schools you are assessing have relationships with Kodiak AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way 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 a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Kodiak medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Kodiak AK home. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program 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 frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on 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 sonogram technician program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must 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, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Kodiak Ultrasound Tech Program
Picking the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to initiating a gratifying new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for extended periods and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Additional preferred skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay collected when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each college you are looking at. This is the case whether you enroll in an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each college, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Kodiak Alaska.