So you have decided to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Helena AL so you can learn to be a radiology technologist. And now that you have decided to enter the satisfying field of healthcare, how do you undertake choosing the ideal school and program to ensure that you will obtain the appropriate training to become a qualified practitioner? And because most states do mandate that x-ray technicians become licensed, depending on where you subsequently practice you might require preparation to pass a licensing examination. So it's essential that you research each of the X-ray technician schools you are considering in order to evaluate each program. A number of students begin by looking for colleges or technical schools that are within commuting distance of their residences. Next, they check tuition and often gravitate toward the lowest cost. But while expense and location need to be taken into consideration, there are other critical qualifiers as well. For example, you should ask if the radiology tech schools are accredited, or if they sponsor internship programs. These questions and others you should ask the X-ray Tech schools you are reviewing are provided later in this post. But first, let's talk about what a radiology tech does and the degrees and training options that are available.
Radiology Technician Occupation Description
There are several professional titles for x-ray techs (technologists or technicians). They can also be referred to as radiologic technicians or technologists, radiology technicians or radiographers. No matter what the name, they all have the same fundamental job description, which is to employ imaging machines to internally view patients for the objective of diagnosis and treatment. Some radiologic technologists may also provide radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Many opt to perform as generalists, while others may choose a specialty, such as mammography. They can work in Helena AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. The imaging technologies that an X-Ray technician might utilize include:
- Traditional and specialized X-Rays
- Computerized tomography (CT) or "CAT" scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Sonography or ultrasound
Radiographers must take care of their equipment plus routinely evaluate its performance and safety. They are also expected to keep complete records of all of their diagnostic procedures. As health practitioners, they must adhere to a code of conduct and a high professional standard.
X-Ray Tech Degree Options
The primary requirement for attending a radiology tech school is to have received a high school diploma or equivalent. Radiologic technologist students have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree, which is the most typical among technicians, normally requires 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the program and course load. A Bachelor's Degree will take more time at as much as 4 years to complete and is more comprehensive in nature. Most students choose a degree major in Radiography, but there are other similar majors that may be acceptable also. Something to keep in mind is that radiographer programs have a clinical training or lab component as part of their course of study. It can typically be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many colleges sponsor through local hospitals and clinics in Helena AL or their region. After you have graduated from any of the degree programs, you must comply with any licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or the state you will be working as applicable.
Radiologic Technologist Licensing and Certification
After you have graduated from an Radiologist school, based on the state where you will be practicing you might have to become licensed. Most states do mandate licensing, and their criteria differ so check with your state. Currently, all states that do mandate licensure will accept The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification examination for the purpose of licensing, but many offer additional options for testing also. Some states also require certification as part of the licensing procedure, if not it is optional. However, many healthcare employers favor hiring radiology techs that have earned certification so it may enhance your career options in and around Helena AL to become certified. ARRT's certification program involves graduation from an accepted program as well as a passing score on their rigorous examination. ARRT also demands re-certification every 2 years, which can be satisfied with 24 credits of continuing education, or by passing an exam.
Online Radiology Tech Classes
As a part of any degree program, x-ray tech schools will have clinical or lab training included in their curriculum. This is no different for online degree schools. So although you can still earn your online degree, a substantial amount of the training will be completed either in a school lab or in an externship off campus. Practical training is typically conducted in Helena AL hospitals, outpatient clinics or private practices in sponsorship with the schools. However the online segment of the training may be attended in the privacy of your home. Students who continue working while earning their degree usually discover that the online style of learning is far more convenient with their active schedules. Plus online schools are often less costly than traditional alternatives. Along with lower tuition, costs for study materials and commuting may be lessened also. But just make certain that the online college you select is accredited (more on the advantages of accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn with this less structured type of training, then online classes may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask X Ray Tech Programs
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of locating and evaluating x-ray tech schools near Helena AL. You will also have to decide if you want to attend online classes or travel to a local campus. If you choose the latter, then naturally the location of the college will be critical. The price of tuition and secondary expenses will be a determining variable as well. But along with location and cost, what else should you look at when comparing schools? Well, you need to ask if the colleges are accredited, and if they provide internship or externship programs. To help you find out some of these crucial details prior to making your selection, we have put together a list of questions that you need to ask the schools you are assessing.
Are the X-Ray Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of radiology technician schools have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still imperative to make sure that the program and school 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the JRCERT have gone through a rigorous review of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Helena AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level openings.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the radiology tech programs you are reviewing have associations with regional clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Helena AL medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in Helena AL in a new field can be challenging without support. 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 a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Helena AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously 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 bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the Helena AL schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the xray technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the radiographer program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Helena AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Helena X-Ray Tech Program
Enrolling in the appropriate radiology tech school is an important first step toward beginning a satisfying new career providing diagnostic medical services to patients. The suitable radiographer must be in good physical condition. X-Ray techs often stand for the majority of the working day and move and in some cases lift the patient to obtain the proper image. Candidates must also demonstrate a capability to pay strict attention to detail and to follow the safety guidelines developed to protect both the medical team and the patient. Radiology technicians work very closely with patients, other technicians as well as the doctors and radiologists. Possessing social skills is a necessity in order to have a good work environment and deliver the best possible patient care. As has been addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each college you are looking at prior to making your final decision. This is equally true whether you participate in an online program or drive to classes on campus. By asking the right questions you can assess and compare each school so you can narrow down your options before making your final choice. And with the appropriate education and your dedication to be successful, you can reach your goal to work as a radiographer in Helena Alabama.