So you have made the decision to enroll in an X-ray tech school near Leeds AL in order to train to be a radiologic technologist. But now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of healthcare, just how do you tackle selecting the ideal school and program to ensure that you will receive the appropriate training to become a skilled practitioner? And because most states do mandate that x-ray techs become licensed, depending on where you ultimately practice you may 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 compare each program. Most students begin by looking for colleges or technical schools that are within commuting distance of their residences. Next, they compare tuition and often gravitate toward the most affordable cost. But while cost and location need to be taken into account, there are other important qualifications as well. For example, you must find out if the radiology tech schools have earned accreditation, or if they offer internships. These inquiries and others you should ask the X-ray Tech schools you are reviewing are provided later in this article. But first, let's talk about what a radiologic tech does and the degrees and training options that are available.
X-Ray Tech Occupation Summary
There are multiple professional designations for x-ray techs (technicians or technologists). They can also be referred to as radiologic technologists, radiologic technicians, radiographers or radiology techs. Irrespective of the name, each has the identical primary job function, which is to utilize imaging machines to internally view patients for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. A number of radiologic technologists may also administer radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Some opt to practice as generalists, while there are those that have chosen a specialization, for instance mammography. They may practice in Leeds 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 maintain their equipment and also frequently analyze its performance and safety. They are additionally expected to keep in-depth records of each of their diagnostic procedures. As medical practitioners, they must adhere to a code of conduct and a high professional standard.
Radiology Tech Degrees
The standard prerequisite for attending an x-ray tech program is to have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Radiologic technologist students have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree, which is the most common among techs, normally requires 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as much as 4 years to complete and is more comprehensive in scope. Most students choose a degree major in Radiography, but there are additional related majors that may be acceptable as well. Something to keep in mind is that radiographer colleges have a practical training or lab component as a component of their curriculum. It may frequently be fulfilled by participating in an internship or externship program which a large number of schools offer through local clinics and hospitals in Leeds AL or their area. After you have graduated from any of the degree programs, you must abide by any certification or licensing mandates in Alabama or the state you will be working as applicable.
X-ray Technician Certification and Licensing
When you have graduated from an X-Ray tech program, based on the state where you will be practicing you may have to become licensed. Most states do mandate licensing, and their requirements differ so check with your state. At present, all states that do require licensing will accept The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification examination for the licensing application, but a number offer other alternatives for testing as well. A number of states also require certification as a component of the licensing process, if not it is voluntary. Having said that, many healthcare employers prefer to hire radiology techs that are certified so it might improve your career options in and around Leeds AL to earn certification. ARRT's certification program involves graduation from an approved program as well as a passing score on their comprehensive exam. ARRT also demands re-certification every other year, which can be met with 24 credits of continuing ed, or by passing an examination.
Online X-Ray Tech Classes
As a part of any degree program, x-ray tech colleges will have practical or lab training included in their curriculum. This is no different for online degree schools. So even though you can still earn your online degree, a significant amount of the training will be satisfied either in a college lab or in an externship off-campus. Practical training is usually carried out in Leeds AL family practices, medical clinics or hospitals in sponsorship with the schools. However the online section of the training can be accessed in the comfort of your home. Students who keep working while earning their degree typically discover that the online approach to education is much more practical with their active schedules. Plus online schools are generally more affordable than on-campus alternatives. In addition to reduced tuition, expenditures for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But just be sure that the online college you choose is accredited (more on the advantages of accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn with this less formalized type of training, then an online degree may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Radiology Tech Colleges
When you have chosen the type of degree that you want to obtain, you can initiate the process of finding and assessing x-ray technician schools near Leeds AL. You will also have to decide if you want to attend classes online or travel to a nearby campus. If you opt for the latter, then of course the location of the school will be important. The cost of tuition and ancillary expenditures will be a determining variable as well. But in addition to location and cost, what more should you consider when evaluating colleges? Well, you should find out if the colleges are accredited, and if they sponsor externship or internship programs. To help you learn some of these important details before you make your decision, we have assembled a list of questions that you need to ask the programs you are looking at.
Are the X-Ray Technician Schools Accredited? The majority of xray technician colleges have received 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 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 undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. 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 quality education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Leeds AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the xray tech schools you are assessing have relationships with local clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Leeds AL medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in Leeds AL in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the x-ray tech programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Leeds AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. 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 generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the Leeds AL schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the xray tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the radiographer program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Leeds AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option 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 may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Leeds X-Ray Tech School
Picking the appropriate radiology technician college is a critical first step toward beginning a fulfilling new career providing diagnostic medical services to patients. The ideal radiographer should be in good physical shape. X-Ray techs often stand for the majority of the day and position and at times lift the patient to get the proper image. Prospects must also show a capability to pay strict attention to detail and to comply with the safety requirements designed to protect both the patient and the medical team. X-Ray technicians work very closely with patients, other techs as well as the radiologists and other doctors. Possessing interpersonal skills is a necessity in order to have a productive work environment and provide the best possible care to patients. As has been covered in this article, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. This is similarly true whether you opt for an online program or travel to classes on-campus. By asking the right questions you can evaluate and compare each college so you can focus your options before making your decision. And with the right education and your dedication to be successful, you can realize your goal to practice as a radiology tech in Leeds Alabama.