So you have made the decision to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Helena AL in order to learn to be a radiology technologist. And now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare, how do you tackle selecting the ideal school and program to ensure that you will receive the proper training to become a qualified professional? And since most states do require that x-ray techs become licensed, depending on where you subsequently practice you might need training to pass a licensing examination. So it's important that you investigate each of the X-ray technician schools you are considering in order to evaluate each program. A number of students start by searching for technical schools or colleges that are within driving distance of their homes. Next, they compare tuition and usually gravitate toward the lowest cost. But while location and cost need to be taken into account, there are other important qualifications as well. For example, you must ask whether or not the radiology tech schools have earned accreditation, or if they sponsor internships. These questions and others you should ask the X-ray Tech schools you are examining are provided later in this article. But first, let's explore what a radiology technician does and the degrees and education options that are available.
X-Ray Tech Job Summary
There are a number of professional titles for x-ray techs (technicians or technologists). They can also be called radiologic technologists, radiologic technicians, radiographers or radiology techs. Regardless of the name, each has the identical primary job function, which is to utilize imaging machines to internally visualize patients for the objective of diagnosis and treatment. Some radiologic technologists might also provide radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Many opt to work as generalists, while there are those that have chosen a specialty, such as mammography. They may practice in Helena AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. The imaging technologies that an X-Ray tech might utilize include:
- Traditional and specialized X-Rays
- Computerized tomography (CT) or "CAT" scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Sonography or ultrasound
Radiographers must care for their equipment and also routinely assess its performance and safety. They are also required to keep in-depth records of all of their diagnostic procedures. As medical practitioners, they must adhere to a code of conduct and a high professional standard.
X-Ray Tech Degrees Available
The primary prerequisite for enrolling in an x-ray tech program is to have earned a high school diploma or GED. Radiologic technologist pupils have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree, which is the most typical among techs, generally takes 18 months to two years to complete based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as much as 4 years to finish and is more extensive in scope. The majority of students select a degree major in Radiography, but there are additional related majors that may be acceptable as well. One thing to consider is that radiographer colleges have a clinical training or lab component as a component of their curriculum. It may typically be fulfilled by participating in an internship or externship program which many colleges sponsor through local hospitals and clinics in Helena AL or their region. After you have graduated from one of the degree programs, you will need to comply with any licensing or certification mandates in Alabama or the state you will be practicing in as applicable.
X-ray Technician Licensing and Certification
Once you have graduated from an X-Ray tech college, depending on the state where you will be employed you might have to be licensed. The majority of states do mandate licensing, and their criteria differ so check with your state. Presently, all states that do require licensure will recognize The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam for the purpose of licensing, but many accept other alternatives for testing as well. A number of states also require certification as a component of the licensing process, otherwise it is voluntary. Having said that, many healthcare employers will only hire radiology techs that have earned certification so it could improve your career options in and around Helena AL to become certified. ARRT's certification program calls for graduation from an accepted program as well as a passing score on their rigorous examination. ARRT also requires re-certification every 2 years, which can be fulfilled with 24 credits of continuing education, or by passing an examination.
Online Radiology Tech Schools
As a component of any degree program, x-ray tech schools will have clinical or lab training included in their curriculum. This is the same for online degree schools. So while you can still earn your degree online, a large amount of the training will be completed either in a college lab or in an internship off-campus. Clinical training is usually carried out in Helena AL family practices, medical clinics or hospitals in sponsorship with the schools. But the online portion of the training may be attended in the comfort of your residence. Students who continue working while earning their degree often find that the online approach to learning is much more convenient with their active schedules. Plus online schools are often less expensive than on-campus alternatives. In addition to lower tuition, expenditures for study materials and commuting can be lessened as well. But just be sure that the online school you choose is accredited (more on the advantages of accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn with this less structured style of training, then online classes may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Radiology Tech Schools
When you have selected the type of degree that you want to obtain, you can begin the process of looking for and assessing x-ray tech schools near Helena AL. You will also have to decide if you prefer to attend online classes or commute to a local campus. If you choose the latter, then naturally the location of the school will be critical. The price of tuition and supplementary expenditures will be a determining variable also. But along with cost and location, what more should you consider when reviewing colleges? Well, you should check out if the schools are accredited, and if they sponsor externship or internship programs. To help you find out some of these essential details before you make your selection, we have put together a list of questions that you must ask the colleges you are looking at.
Are the Radiology Technician Schools Accredited? A large number of xray tech schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, 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 radiology is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRCERT have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and course materials. If the college is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Helena AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the xray technician schools you are reviewing have associations with area clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Helena AL health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in Helena AL in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the x-ray tech programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Helena AL home. Students who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have 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 sort of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the Helena AL colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the xray tech program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the radiographer college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Helena AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Helena X-Ray Tech Program
Selecting the ideal x-ray technician college is a critical first step toward launching a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic medical services to patients. The suitable radiographer should be in good physical shape. X-Ray techs frequently 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 adhere to the safety requirements developed to protect both the patient and the medical team. Radiology techs work very closely with patients, other technicians as well as the doctors and radiologists. Having interpersonal skills is a must in order to have a good work environment and furnish the best available care to patients. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each college you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. This is similarly true whether you opt for an online school or travel to classes on campus. By asking the appropriate questions you can assess and compare each college so you can focus your options and make your decision. And with the appropriate education and your commitment to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as a radiographer in Helena Alabama.