How to Select the Best Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Palmer Alaska
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Palmer AK, the next step is to start the procedure of selecting a college. First, you must find the right program that will provide the appropriate education to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's very important that you research each college so that you can evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? A number of potential students will start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this post. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are offered.
Sonographer Work Summary
There are more than one acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Palmer AK hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work functions of an ultrasound technician can consist of:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 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 option for those who have already earned 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 relevant health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training component as a portion of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many colleges set up through Palmer AK clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alaska or whatever state you decide 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 Palmer 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 Sonogram Tech Colleges
As previously mentioned, nearly all sonogram technician colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Palmer AKhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Palmer home. This is particularly convenient for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online programs are many times less costly than traditional options. Costs for study materials and commuting may be decreased also. But similarly as with any sonography school you are reviewing, make sure that the online school you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important 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 comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Technician Schools
After you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Palmer AK area. Obviously location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier also. But there are other factors that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonographer school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Colleges Accredited? Most ultrasound technician colleges have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to verify that the school and program 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). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive examination of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Palmer AK health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the sonogram technician colleges you are assessing have associations with Palmer AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Palmer medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the sonographer programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Palmer AK home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Palmer AK area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Palmer Ultrasound Technician Training
Picking the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is a vital first step to entering a gratifying new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for extended durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Additional helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each school you are considering. This holds true whether you choose an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each school, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Palmer Alaska.