How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Nikiski Alaska
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Nikiski AK, the next step is to start the procedure of choosing a school. To begin with, you have to find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you research each college so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Many individuals will start by looking for colleges that are within commuting 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 critical factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are offered.
Sonographer Work Summary
There are more than one professional 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 primary job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Nikiski AK clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job functions of an ultrasound technician may involve:
- 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 use and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finish. Another option 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 health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to bear in mind is that most sonographer colleges do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges organize with Nikiski AK hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alaska or whichever state you elect 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 Nikiski 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 Tech Programs
As previously mentioned, almost all sonogram technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree 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 typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Nikiski AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the remainder of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Nikiski home. This is especially beneficial for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online programs are often less expensive than traditional alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be lessened as well. But similarly as with any sonography program you are considering, make sure that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
When you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Nikiski AK area. Obviously location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are additional variables that you should also take into consideration, such as if the schools are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, following are a few questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? Most ultrasound tech colleges have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still important to verify 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed review of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Nikiski AK employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are interested in have associations with Nikiski AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Nikiski health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Nikiski AK home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes 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 bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the sonographer school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Nikiski AK area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have 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.
Choose the Right Nikiski Ultrasound Technician Program
Choosing the right ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a vital first step to commencing a fulfilling new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged durations and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Additional helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when confronted by an angry or anxious 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 considering. This holds true whether you choose an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each program, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Nikiski Alaska.