How to Find an Accredited Sonography School Near Palmer Alaska
Since you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Palmer AK, the next step is to start the process of selecting a college. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will provide the appropriate education to become a skilled professional. And since some states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program so that you can assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? Most prospective students will begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost must be considered 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 offer internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Work Summary
There are several professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Palmer AK clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job functions of an ultrasound 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 use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram technician enrollees have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finish. Another option for individuals who have previously 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 relevant health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of sonographer colleges do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges sponsor through Palmer AK hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites 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 Classes
As aforementioned, nearly all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus lab or at a sponsored off campus facility. Practical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Palmer AKhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the rest of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Palmer home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are often less costly than traditional options. Costs for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But similarly as with every sonographer college you are looking at, 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 crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Schools
As soon as you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You may first want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Palmer AK area. Clearly location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other things that you should also take into account, such as if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound tech schools have obtained some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to verify that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations 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 college 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 acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may 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 program for entry level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram tech schools you are reviewing have relationships with Palmer AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Palmer medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Palmer AK residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually 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 student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Palmer AK area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Palmer Ultrasound Tech Program
Enrolling in the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to entering a rewarding new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for extended durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Additional preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each program you are reviewing. This is the case 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 evaluate each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Palmer Alaska.