How to Choose the Best Ultrasound Technician Program Near Palmer Alaska
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Palmer AK, the next step is to begin the process of selecting a school. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will furnish the appropriate instruction to become a skilled professional. And because 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 licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you research each program in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one begin? A number of potential students will begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other critical factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Job Description
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 basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Palmer AK hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily work duties of an ultrasound technician may 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 testing and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly gauge the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally involve about 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finish. Another alternative for individuals who have already obtained 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 medical 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 almost all sonographer programs do have a practical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many colleges sponsor through Palmer AK clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing 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 Ultrasound Tech Colleges
As earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on campus lab or at an approved off-campus facility. Practical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Palmer AKhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the rest of the training and classes may be attended online in your Palmer home. This is especially beneficial for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online colleges are often more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Costs for study materials and commuting can be lessened also. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech school you are reviewing, check that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
After you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Palmer AK area. Of course location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other variables that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech colleges have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly respected 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 examination of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Palmer AK health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the ultrasound technician schools you are reviewing have associations with Palmer AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Palmer health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the sonographer programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Palmer AK home. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom 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 researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Palmer AK area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Palmer Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to commencing a fulfilling new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic standards, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy periods and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This holds true whether you choose an online degree or travel 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 alternatives 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 objective to practice as a sonographer in Palmer Alaska.