How to Select an Accredited Sonography Training Program Near Nikiski Alaska
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Nikiski AK, it's time to start the procedure of picking a college. First, you have to find the right program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And given that some 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 extremely important that you investigate each school so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? Most students will start by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost need to be considered when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Work Description
There are multiple 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 primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Nikiski AK clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily work duties of a sonogram tech may include:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for further testing
Sonographers must regularly assess the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Available
Sonogram tech students have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally take around 18 months to 2 years to complete depending 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 previously received 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 medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges organize through Nikiski AK clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the certification or licensing requirements in Alaska or whatever 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.
Ultrasound Tech Online Colleges
As aforementioned, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So although 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. Practical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Nikiski AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the rest of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Nikiski home. This is especially beneficial for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are frequently less costly than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But just as with any sonographer school you are considering, check that the online program you choose is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for certification, licensing and job placement (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 could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Sonography Schools
When you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Nikiski AK area. Of course location will be important if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are additional things that you must also take into consideration, for example 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 some questions that you may want to ask each sonography program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? The majority of ultrasound tech schools have earned some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still imperative to make sure that the school and program are accredited. Among 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Nikiski AK employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the ultrasound technician colleges you are reviewing have partnerships with Nikiski AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Nikiski healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the sonographer schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Nikiski AK home. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear 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 might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the sonographer college you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Nikiski AK area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out 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 might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Nikiski Ultrasound Tech Program
Selecting the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to commencing a rewarding new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Other desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep levelheaded when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this article, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are reviewing. This is true whether you select an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each college, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can realize your objective to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Nikiski Alaska.