How to Select an Accredited Sonography School Near Sitka Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Sitka AK, the next step is to start the procedure of choosing a school. To begin with, you have to find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary instruction to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you investigate each school so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one begin? Most students will begin by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and other qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Description
There are various 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 primary job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Sitka AK hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily job duties of a sonogram tech can consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must frequently evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound tech students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve around 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finish. Another alternative for individuals who have previously 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 relevant medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to bear in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous schools organize through Sitka AK clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to comply with the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alaska or whatever state you decide to work 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 Sitka 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 Schools
As aforementioned, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either conducted in an on campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Sitka AKhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the balance of the classes and training can be attended online in your Sitka home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online colleges are frequently less expensive than on campus alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But just as with any ultrasound tech school you are reviewing, check that the online school you select is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
After you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Sitka 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 additional factors that you must also take into consideration, for example if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each sonography school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician colleges have acquired some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to verify that the program and school are accredited. Among 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed assessment of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in getting financial aid and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Sitka AK health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the sonogram tech programs you are interested in have associations with Sitka AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Sitka medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the sonographer programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Sitka AK residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Sitka AK area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Sitka Ultrasound Technician Training
Selecting the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to starting a rewarding new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for prolonged durations and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay collected when faced with an anxious or angry 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 college you are reviewing. This holds true whether you choose an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Sitka Alaska.