How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Technician College Near Sterling Alaska
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Sterling AK, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do mandate that sonographers 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 college in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Most potential students will start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Job Summary
There are multiple professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as 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 testing on patients. While many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Sterling AK hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily work functions of an ultrasound technician can involve:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for further testing
Sonographers must frequently evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Sonogram technician students have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to complete. Another option for those who have previously earned 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 field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training component as a portion of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many schools set up with Sterling AK hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Alaska or whichever state you choose 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 Sterling 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 earlier discussed, nearly all ultrasound technician colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either carried out in an on campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Clinical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Sterling AKoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the remainder of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Sterling home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online programs are often more affordable than traditional options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be reduced also. But just as with every sonographer school you are looking at, verify that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the right choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonogram Tech Schools
Now that you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Sterling AK area. Obviously location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification as well. But there are additional factors that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each sonography program before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician schools have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial 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). Programs earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and course materials. If the college is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance 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 acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Sterling AK employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the sonogram tech schools you are reviewing have associations with Sterling AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Sterling medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the sonographer schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alaska healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Sterling AK home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the ultrasound tech college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Sterling AK area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Sterling Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the right ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to starting a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Other beneficial skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each school you are looking at. This holds true whether you select an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper 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 proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Sterling Alaska.