How to Select the Best Sonography Degree Program Near Kodiak Alaska
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Kodiak AK, the next step is to start the procedure of selecting a school. First, you have to find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary training to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you investigate each school in order to assess and compare your options. But just where does one begin? Most students will start by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional important 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 depth later in this post. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are available.
Sonographer Occupation Summary
There are several acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called 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 perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Kodiak AK hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily job duties of a sonogram tech can consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have previously 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 health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that almost all sonographer colleges do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many colleges set up through Kodiak AK clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alaska or whatever 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.
Ultrasound Tech Online Degrees
As earlier discussed, nearly all ultrasound tech colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while 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 approved off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Kodiak AKhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the remainder of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Kodiak home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online schools are often more affordable than on campus options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But similarly as with every sonography school you are reviewing, confirm that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the right option for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Kodiak AK area. Naturally location will be significant if you choose 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, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each sonography school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? Most sonogram technician schools have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative to confirm that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed assessment of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial aid and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Kodiak AK health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are evaluating have relationships with Kodiak AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Kodiak medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the sonographer programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they select will need to be within driving distance of their Kodiak AK residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble 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 college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the sonographer school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Kodiak AK area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Kodiak Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the right sonographer degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to launching a rewarding new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged time frames and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Additional preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each college you are looking at. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Kodiak Alaska.