So you have decided to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Gulf Shores AL so you can learn to be a radiologic technologist. But now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of healthcare, just how do you set about selecting the ideal college and program to ensure that you will get the appropriate training to become a skilled professional? And because most states do require that x-ray techs become licensed, based on where you subsequently work you might need preparation to pass a licensing test. So it's imperative that you investigate each of the X-ray technician schools you are looking at so that you can evaluate each program. Most prospective students start by searching for technical schools or colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes. Next, they check tuition and often settle on the most affordable cost. But while expense and location must be taken into account, there are additional significant qualifications also. For instance, you must ask whether or not the radiology tech schools have earned accreditation, or if they sponsor internship programs. These inquiries and others you should ask the X-ray Tech schools you are evaluating are presented later in this article. But first, let's discuss what a x-ray technician does and the credentials and education choices that are offered.
X-Ray Technician Occupation Description
There are multiple professional designations for x-ray techs (technologists or technicians). They may also be referred to as radiologic technicians or technologists, radiographers or radiology techs. Regardless of the name, each has the same major job function, which is to use imaging machines to internally visualize patients for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. Some radiologic technologists may also provide radiation therapy for treating cancer. Many elect to perform as generalists, while there are those that have chosen a specialization, such as mammography. They may practice in Gulf Shores AL clinics, hospitals, family practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. The imaging technologies that an X-Ray tech might work with include:
- Traditional and specialized X-Rays
- Computerized tomography (CT) or "CAT" scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Sonography or ultrasound
Radiographers must maintain their equipment and frequently assess its functionality and safety. They are also expected to keep detailed records of all of their diagnostic procedures. As health practitioners, they are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct.
Radiology Technician Degrees
The standard prerequisite for enrolling in an x-ray tech program is to have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. 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 techs, normally takes 18 months to two years to finish depending on the program and course load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish and is more comprehensive in nature. Most students select a degree major in Radiography, but there are other related majors that are acceptable as well. Something to bear in mind is that radiographer schools have a practical training or lab component as a component of their course of study. It may typically be fulfilled by participating in an internship or externship program which many schools offer through local clinics and hospitals in Gulf Shores AL or their area. Once you have graduated from any of the degree programs, you will need to abide by any licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or the state you will be practicing in as applicable.
X-ray Technician Certification and Licensing
When you have graduated from an x-ray technician college, based on the state where you will be working you may have to become licensed. Most states do mandate licensing, and their prerequisites differ so check with your state. Currently, all states that do require licensing will accept The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam for the licensing application, but several provide additional options for testing also. Some states also require certification as a component of the licensing process, if not it is voluntary. However, numerous healthcare employers would rather hire radiology techs that are certified so it might enhance your career options in and around Gulf Shores AL to become certified. ARRT's certification program requires graduation from an approved program in addition to a passing score on their rigorous examination. ARRT also requires re-certification every other year, which may be met with 24 credits of continuing ed, or by passing an examination.
Online X-Ray Technician Classes
As a part of every degree program, x-ray tech schools will have practical or lab training included in their course of study. This is no different for online degree colleges. So although you can still obtain your degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be completed either in a school lab or in an internship off campus. Clinical training is typically performed in Gulf Shores AL hospitals, outpatient clinics or private practices in sponsorship with the colleges. But the online section of the training may be attended in the comfort of your home. Students who continue working while obtaining their degree typically find that the online approach to learning is much more practical with their hectic schedules. Plus online schools are often cheaper than conventional options. Along with reduced tuition, costs for study materials and commuting can be reduced as well. But just make certain that the online college you pick is accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn with this less structured type of training, then online classes may be the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Radiologic Tech Schools
Once you have chosen the kind of degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of looking for and evaluating x-ray technician schools near Gulf Shores AL. You will also need to determine if you want to attend classes online or commute to a nearby campus. If you opt for the latter, then naturally the location of the college will be relevant. The price of tuition and supplementary expenditures will be a material variable as well. But in addition to cost and location, what else should you factor in when reviewing schools? Well, you should check out if the colleges are accredited, and if they provide externship or internship programs. To help you find out some of these important details prior to making your selection, we have assembled a list of questions that you must ask the programs you are looking at.
Are the Radiology Tech Programs Accredited? The majority of xray technician colleges have earned some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to confirm that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies in the field of radiology is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). Schools earning accreditation from the JRCERT have gone through a rigorous examination of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in getting financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Gulf Shores AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the xray tech programs you are assessing have relationships with regional hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Gulf Shores AL medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in Gulf Shores AL in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the radiographer schools you are interviewing have job placement 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 confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Gulf Shores AL home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps 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 commonly 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 student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the Gulf Shores AL colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the radiology technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the xray tech college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gulf Shores AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, 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 as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Gulf Shores X-Ray Tech Program
Enrolling in the ideal x-ray tech degree program is an important first step toward launching a satisfying new career providing diagnostic medical services to patients. The suitable radiographer must be in good physical condition. Radiology techs often stand for the greater part of the working day and move and sometimes lift the patient to get the proper image. Candidates must also show an ability to pay strict attention to detail and to follow the safety requirements developed to protect both the medical team and the patient. X-Ray techs work very closely with patients, other technicians as well as the radiologists and other doctors. Having social skills is a must in order to have a productive work environment and furnish the best available care to patients. As we have covered in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. This is equally true whether you participate in an online school or commute to classes on-campus. By asking the right questions you can examine and compare each college so you can focus your options before making your decision. And with the proper education and your commitment to be successful, you can reach your goal to practice as a radiology tech in Gulf Shores Alabama.