How to Pick the Best Sonography School Near Lakes Alaska
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Lakes 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 necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's extremely important that you research each program so that you can evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? Many individuals will begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost must be considered when making a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are available.
Sonogram Tech Job Summary
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 primary job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While many work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Lakes AK hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job functions of a sonogram tech may involve:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely assess the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finish. Another option for individuals 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 instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many colleges organize with Lakes AK hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to comply with the certification or licensing prerequisites 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 Lakes 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 Sonographer Programs
As earlier discussed, virtually all ultrasound technician colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial 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 typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Lakes AKhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the balance of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Lakes home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online programs are many times more affordable than on campus options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be reduced as well. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech program you are looking at, confirm that the online school you choose is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
Now that you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Lakes AK area. Naturally location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonography school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician colleges have acquired some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative to make sure that the school and program 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed assessment of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Lakes AK employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the ultrasound technician colleges you are interested in have relationships with Lakes AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Lakes healthcare community and assist 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 profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the sonographer schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Lakes AK residence. Those who have decided 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 concern. Something 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 might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually 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.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the sonographer program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Lakes AK area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Lakes Ultrasound Tech Program
Picking the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is a vital first step to initiating a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools 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 health, capable of standing for prolonged durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Additional beneficial skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each program you are looking at. This is the case whether you select an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each college, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Lakes Alaska.