How to Pick an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Program Near Palmer Alaska
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Palmer AK, it's time to start the process of choosing a college. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary training to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you research each program in order to assess and compare your options. But just where does one start? Most prospective students will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other important factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Job Description
There are several professional 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 carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Palmer AK hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job functions of a sonogram technician may consist of:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Sonogram technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally take about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finish. Another option for those who have already obtained a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received 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 require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many colleges set up with Palmer AK hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements 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 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Schools
As earlier discussed, nearly all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Palmer AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your Palmer home. This is especially convenient for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. Plus online programs are many times less expensive than on campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But similarly as with every sonographer school you are reviewing, verify that the online program you select is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Schools
After you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Palmer AK area. Of course location will be important if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are several questions that you need ask each sonography school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech colleges have acquired some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial to verify that the school and program are accredited. One of 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous examination of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized 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 frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Palmer AK employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the ultrasound technician schools you are reviewing have associations with Palmer AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Palmer medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Palmer AK home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable 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 prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Palmer AK area, confirm 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 have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Palmer Ultrasound Tech Training
Picking the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to commencing a gratifying new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for lengthy time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to stay 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 article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each college you are looking at. This is true whether you select an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate 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, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can reach your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Palmer Alaska.