Boy Howdy There’s More

This morning I met with one of the advising specialists for Health Sciences at Austin Community College, and learned that while I did a ton of research into the field of cardiovascular sonography, I didn’t do that much into the degree program.

I went into my meeting knowing that I had to take the TSI assessment test, I needed to go to an Area of Study informational meeting, and I needed to register for classes before school starts in the fall. I walked out a little bit tharn (that’s the term used for “frozen in terror,” for those that didn’t read Watership Down).

Before I get into that, let me reassure you that I am even more dedicated to this degree program after my meeting. It went very well and my advising specialist was extremely nice and welcoming. I learned an awful lot and found out how to learn even more when I got home. So I did.

There’s a three-page long document called Sonography Programs Advising Checklist that I was linked to. The first step in this process is to print out the checklist. Okay, done, no problem. Next, I need to complete sonography student lab volunteer sessions for diagnostic medical sonography, diagnostic cardiovascular sonography, and vascular technology. Each session is an hour long and consists of roleplaying the “patient” for students to practice their ultrasound techniques. For additional points on my Applicant Ranking Worksheet, the criteria that determines who gets admitted, I can sit for up to four sessions per specialty, so a total of 12 hours in the lab. This is understandable, it’s designed to let prospective students know what they’re getting themselves into firsthand, and also shows a little bit of how the students learn. Next, I need to explore the ACC Sonography website, being careful to read everything. I’ve just spent the last several hours doing just that, and printing several documents out for easy future reference. I also need to complete the mandatory online information session and verification post tests, and print out the form that shows that I’ve done that. This, too, has been completed. After that’s done, I need to schedule a Sonography Program Advising Session, and take several completed forms with me, including my immunization form. (Because of the false starts in this process prior to settling on sonography, I’ve already got most of this done and will complete it early next month.) And then comes the requirements to apply.

First off, I have to have applied to the school, something I did months ago. I have my student ID number, student email, the only thing I’m missing in that department is a physical student ID card and a parking permit. My immunizations need to be complete. I need to have completed College Algebra, Anatomy & Physiology I (more on that in a minute), Anatomy & Physiology II, and Applied Physics as prerequisite courses, and I need to have earned a minimum 2.7 GPA on them, although to be competitive for a spot in the program that needs to be 3.5 or higher. I need to have completed a Certified Nurse Aide program (more on that in a minute too). And I need to take the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), a test used in nursing and allied health programs to determine an applicant’s proficiency in reading, math, science, and English and language usage. Somewhere in there I need to get my basic first aid and CPR certification and prove it’s current as of the date I apply to the program.

Finally, there’s the matter of earning additional points on my Applicant Ranking Worksheet, which I can do by taking the co-requisite courses (the non-sonography courses that are part of the degree program – English Composition I, Interpersonal Communication, Introduction to Psychology, Ethics, and Essentials of Medical Terminology) and working as either a volunteer or paid person in direct patient care for at least 80 hours. If I were an EMT-Basic, LVN, RN, radiology technician, or paramedic I could get even more additional points on my worksheet. Naturally, the higher the score, the better your chances of getting in.

Back to Anatomy & Physiology I for a minute. There have been so many students that have taken and failed this course since it was instituted that they now give an assessment test that you need to score a 70% or higher on in order to place into A&P I. There is a list of test objectives, so you’ll have an idea what to expect on this test. That list is six pages long. I can either study for it on my own, or I can take Biology Fundamentals, a course that exists only to be preparation for this exam. Because it’s not part of this or any other degree program, it’s almost certainly going to have to come out of my pocket and not be covered by my agreement with Texas Workforce Commission.

The Certified Nurse Aide is a certificate program that lasts 5-10 weeks and covers two classes. Neither of these are credit toward my degree plan, and because of that this is likely also going to have to be paid for by me. But at least I’ll have a fallback career plan if things don’t go well with sonography.

There are other requirements as well, like a long list of psychomotor skills and abilities that an applicant needs to be able to do for prolonged periods of time. I might not be able to do them all now, but I can work on it while I’m in school. Besides, I have a feeling that once I’m in school, I’m going to start dropping weight.

The program has four clinical sessions throughout, and the locations are assigned by the school and cannot under any circumstance be requested by a student – you go where you’re told. The trick is, the service area for these locations can be anywhere from Waco to San Antonio, and for those not familiar with Texas geography, that’s as much as a three hour round trip, five days a week for a semester.

I’m going to need to find some way of getting a second car. There’s no way that we can manage that kind of commuting for both of us with only one vehicle. It’s not going to have to be nice, although that would be lovely. It needs to run reliably and not dump me on the side of the road somewhere. That’s going to be something that’s going to come in time, however, plenty of time to figure out our options.

So that’s what I have to do to get into school. It’s a boring list, and I knew it would be more extensive than “take these prerequisites and you’re in” but I didn’t quite expect this much. Fortunately I’ve gotten some of these things done already or will be taking care of them fairly soon. It’s no matter, though. It’ll get done. Not sure how tonight, but it’ll happen.

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