So you have decided to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Athens AL in order to learn to be a radiology technologist. And now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare, just how do you undertake picking the ideal school and program so that you will obtain the proper training to become a skilled professional? And since most states do mandate that x-ray techs become licensed, depending on where you ultimately work you might need training to pass a licensing exam. So it's imperative that you investigate each of the X-ray technician schools you are considering so that you can evaluate each program. Most potential students begin by looking for colleges or technical schools that are within commuting distance of their homes. Next, they compare tuition and often settle on the lowest cost. But while cost and location must be considered, there are other important qualifiers as well. For instance, you need to ask if the radiology tech schools have earned accreditation, or if they sponsor internships. These questions and others you must ask the X-ray Tech schools you are evaluating are provided later in this article. But first, let's talk about what a x-ray technician does and the degrees and education choices that are offered.
Radiology Technician Career Summary
There are several professional designations for x-ray techs (technologists or technicians). They may also be called radiologic technicians or technologists, radiology technicians or radiographers. Irrespective of the name, each has the identical fundamental job description, which is to employ imaging machines to internally visualize patients for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. A number of radiologic technologists may also provide radiation therapy for treating cancer. Some choose to practice as generalists, while there are those that have chosen a specialization, for example mammography. They can work in Athens AL hospitals, clinics, family practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. The imaging technologies that an X-Ray technician may utilize include:
- Traditional and specialized X-Rays
- Computerized tomography (CT) or "CAT" scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Sonography or ultrasound
Radiographers must maintain their equipment plus regularly assess its performance and safety. They are also expected to keep in-depth records of each of their diagnostic procedures. As health practitioners, they must adhere to a code of conduct and a high professional standard.
Radiology Technician Degrees Offered
The standard prerequisite for enrolling in a radiology tech school is to have attained a high school diploma or GED. Radiologic technologist pupils have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree, which is the most common among technicians, normally requires 18 months to two years to complete depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take more time at up to 4 years to complete and is more expansive in nature. The majority of students select a degree major in Radiography, but there are other similar majors that may be acceptable as well. Something to keep in mind is that radiographer colleges have a clinical training or lab component as a component of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship or externship program which many colleges offer through local clinics and hospitals in Athens AL or their region. After you have graduated from one of the degree programs, you must abide by any licensing or certification mandates in Alabama or the state you will be practicing in as applicable.
X-ray Technician Certification and Licensing
After you have graduated from an X-Ray tech program, based on the state where you will be employed you might need to become licensed. Most states do mandate licensing, and their prerequisites vary so check with your state. At present, all states that do mandate licensing will accept The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification examination for the purpose of licensing, but a number provide additional alternatives for testing as well. Several states also call for certification as a component of the licensing procedure, if not it is voluntary. Having said that, numerous healthcare employers would rather hire radiology techs that have earned certification so it might improve your career options in and around Athens AL to earn certification. ARRT's certification program involves graduation from an accepted program in addition to a passing score on their comprehensive exam. ARRT also calls for re-certification every other year, which may be satisfied with 24 credits of continuing education, or by passing an exam.
Online X-Ray Technologist Colleges
As a part of any degree program, x-ray tech schools will have practical or lab training included in their course of study. This is the same for online degree programs. So even though you can still obtain your degree online, a substantial amount of the training will be completed either in a school lab or in an externship off campus. Clinical training is often carried out in Athens AL family practices, medical clinics or hospitals in sponsorship with the schools. But the online portion of the training can be attended in the privacy of your home. Students who continue working while obtaining their degree often discover that the online style of education is much more practical with their active schedules. Plus online colleges are generally less costly than on-campus alternatives. Along with reduced tuition, expenses for commuting and study materials can be reduced also. But just make certain that the online program you enroll in is accredited (more on the advantages of accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn with this less structured style of training, then online classes may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Radiographer Programs
Once you have decided on the kind of degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of searching for and evaluating x-ray technician colleges near Athens AL. You will also have to decide if you prefer to attend online classes or drive to a nearby campus. If you opt for the latter, then naturally the location of the school will be relevant. The price of tuition and secondary expenses will be a material factor as well. But in addition to location and cost, what more should you factor in when comparing colleges? Well, you should ask if the schools are accredited, and if they provide internship or externship programs. To help you learn some of these essential details prior to making your decision, we have compiled a list of questions that you should ask the colleges you are looking at.
Are the X-Ray Technician Programs Accredited? A large number of radiology tech schools have acquired some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations in the field of radiology is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRCERT have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it might 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. In addition to ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Athens AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the radiology technician colleges you are assessing have partnerships with area hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Athens AL medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in Athens AL in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the x-ray tech programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Athens AL residence. Students 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 importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the Athens AL colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the xray technician program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the xray tech college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Athens AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Athens X-Ray Tech Program
Choosing the appropriate x-ray tech degree program is a critical first step toward beginning a satisfying new career furnishing diagnostic medical services to patients. The ideal radiologic technologist should be in good physical shape. X-Ray techs often stand for the greater part of the day and move and in some cases lift the patient to obtain the proper image. Prospects must also demonstrate an ability to pay close attention to detail and to comply with the safety guidelines developed to protect both the medical team and the patient. X-Ray techs work very closely with patients, other techs as well as the doctors and radiologists. Possessing social skills is a must in order to have a good work environment and deliver the best possible patient care. As has been discussed in this article, there are several questions that you need to ask each school you are reviewing before making your final decision. This is just as true whether you decide on an online school or travel to classes on campus. By asking the right questions you can evaluate and compare each school so you can focus your options before making your decision. And with the right training and your commitment to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to practice as a radiographer in Athens Alabama.