How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Training Program Near Sitka Alaska
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Sitka AK, the next step is to start the procedure of selecting a college. First, you need to find the ideal program that will furnish the proper education to become a qualified professional. And because a number of 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 certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you research each program in order to assess and compare your options. But just where does one start? Many potential students will start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifications will be covered more in detail later in this article. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training options that are available.
Sonographer Work Summary
There are multiple professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Sitka AK clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily work duties of an ultrasound technician may involve:
- Keeping 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 sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for further testing
Sonographers must regularly gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally take about 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to finish. Another alternative for individuals who have already received 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 medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many schools organize with Sitka AK hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alaska or whichever 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 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.
Sonographer Online Classes
As previously mentioned, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off campus facility. Practical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Sitka AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Sitka home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online programs are many times less expensive than on-campus options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech program you are considering, confirm that the online school 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 especially crucial for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
Now that you have decided on which 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 choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Sitka AK area. Obviously location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are other variables that you should also take into consideration, such as if the schools are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound tech schools have obtained some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still important to make sure that the school and program 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). Schools earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous review 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 education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Sitka AK health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level openings.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the sonogram technician schools you are reviewing have associations with Sitka AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Sitka medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Sitka AK home. Those 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 bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically 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 sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify 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 evening or weekend classes in the Sitka AK area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Sitka Ultrasound Tech Program
Selecting the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to launching a fulfilling new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for prolonged durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Other preferred skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay collected when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each program you are reviewing. This holds true whether you enroll in an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each school, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can reach your objective to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Sitka Alaska.