How to Find the Right Phlebotomy Tech School near Birmingham AL
Picking the right phlebotomist school near Birmingham AL is a critical initial step toward a fulfilling profession as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a difficult undertaking to analyze and compare all of the training alternatives that are available to you. Nevertheless it's necessary that you do your due diligence to ensure that you get a quality education. In reality, a large number of students begin the process by looking at two of the qualifiers that initially come to mind, which are cost and location. Yet another factor you might consider is whether to attend classes online or commute to an area campus. We'll review a bit more about online classes later in this article. What's important to remember is that there is much more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than finding the closest or the cheapest one. Other factors including reputation and accreditation are also significant considerations and must be part of your decision process also. Toward that end, we will supply a list of questions that you need to ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are reviewing to help you pick the ideal one for you. But prior to doing that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and then continue our conversation about online training.
Request Free information on Phlebotomy Training in Your Area
Phlebotomy Tech Job Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, collects blood samples from patients. Although that is their principal duty, there is in fact far more to their job description. Before drawing a blood sample, a phlebotomist has to check that the tools being used are sterile and single use only. After collection, the sample has to be correctly labeled with the patient's data. Afterward, paperwork needs to be properly filled out to be able to track the sample from the time of collection through the lab screening process. The phlebotomist then delivers the blood to either an an outside lab facility or an in-house lab where it may be tested for such things as pregnancy, infectious diseases or blood type. A number of phlebotomists actually work in Birmingham AL labs and are responsible for ensuring that samples are analyzed properly using the strictest quality control procedures. And if those weren't sufficient duties, they may be asked to train other phlebotomists in the collection, delivery and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomists Practice?
The quickest response is wherever they treat patients. Their work places are many and diverse, such as Birmingham AL hospitals, medical clinics, long-term care facilities, or blood centers. They can be assigned to draw blood samples from patients of all ages, from babies or young children to seniors. Some phlebotomy techs, depending on their training and their practice, specialize in drawing samples from a certain kind of patient. For instance, those working in a nursing home or assisted living facility would solely be drawing blood from older patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be collecting blood from mothers and newborns solely. In contrast, phlebotomists working in a general hospital environment would be collecting samples from a wide variety of patients and would collect samples from different patients every day.
Phlebotomy Technician Education, Certification and Licensing
There are essentially 2 kinds of programs that furnish phlebotomy training, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program typically takes under a year to complete and offers a general education along with the training on how to draw blood. It offers the fastest method to becoming a phlebotomy tech. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, although not exclusively a phlebotomy degree, will provide training on becoming a phlebotomist. Offered at community and junior colleges, they usually require two years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are less available and as a four year program provide a more comprehensive foundation in lab sciences. When you have finished your training, you will no doubt want to become certified. Although not required in most states, many Birmingham AL employers look for certification prior to hiring technicians. A few of the key certifying agencies include:
- National Phlebotomy Association
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
There are some states that do call for certification in order to practice as a phlebotomy tech, such as California and Nevada. California and a handful of other states even require licensing. So it's imperative that you enroll in a phlebotomist training program that not only supplies a quality education, but also prepares you for any licensing or certification examinations that you elect or are required to take.
Online Phlebotomy Certificates and Degrees
To begin with, let's dispel one likely misconception. You can't receive all of your phlebotomist training online. A substantial component of the program of studies will be practical training and it will be performed either in an approved healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. Many courses also require completion of an internship in order to graduate. But since the non-clinical component of the training may be accessed online, it could be a more convenient alternative for some Birmingham AL students. As an additional benefit, some online programs are more affordable than their on-campus counterparts. And some expenditures, such as those for textbooks or commuting, may be minimized also. Just confirm that the online phlebotomist program you enroll in is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency (more on accreditation to follow). With both the extensive clinical and online training, you can obtain a superior education with this means of learning. If you are dedicated enough to study at home, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Phlebotomy Schools
Now that you have a basic idea about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomy tech, it's time to begin your due diligence process. You may have already decided on the kind of program you intend to enroll in, whether it be for a certificate or a degree. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the campus is important if you will be commuting from Birmingham AL in addition to the cost of tuition. Perhaps you have decided to enroll in an accredited phlebotomist online school. All of these decisions are a critical component of the procedure for choosing a phlebotomy school or program. But they are not the only concerns when arriving at your decision. Following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate decision.
Is the Phlebotomy Program State Specific? As previously mentioned, each state has its own regulations for practicing as a phlebotomist. Several states call for certification, while a few others require licensing. Each has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum amount of practical training completed before practicing as a phlebotomist. Consequently, you may have to pass a State Board, licensing or certification exam. Therefore it's extremely important to select a phlebotomist program that satisfies the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working and readies you for all exams you may be required to take.
Is the School Accredited? The phlebotomy program and school you enroll in should be accredited by a reputable national or regional accrediting organization, for example the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are many benefits to graduating from an accredited program in addition to an assurance of a premium education. To begin with, if your program is not accredited, you will not be able to take a certification examination offered by any of the earlier listed certifying agencies. Also, accreditation will help in securing loans or financial assistance, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Finally, graduating from an accredited college can make you more desirable to future employers in the Birmingham AL job market.
What is the Program's Reputation? In many states there is little or no regulation of phlebotomist schools, so there are some that are not of the highest caliber. So along with accreditation, it's imperative to check the reputations of all schools you are looking at. You can start by asking the schools for references from employers where they place their graduates as part of their job placement program. You can screen online school rating and review services and solicit the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. You can also check with a few Birmingham AL clinics or hospitals that you may be interested in working for and find out if they can offer any insights. As a final thought, you can check with the Alabama school licensing authority and ask if any complaints have been submitted or if the schools are in full compliance.
Is Plenty of Training Included? To begin with, check with the state regulator where you will be practicing to find out if there are any minimum requirements for the amount of training, both classroom and practical. At a minimum, any phlebotomy program that you are reviewing should provide at least 40 hours of classroom training (most require 120) and 120 hours of clinical training. Anything lower than these minimums might indicate that the program is not expansive enough to offer sufficient training.
Are Internship Programs Included? Ask the colleges you are reviewing if they have an internship program in partnership with area healthcare facilities. They are the ideal means to receive hands-on practical training often not available on campus. As an additional benefit, internships can help students develop contacts within the local Birmingham AL healthcare community. And they are a plus on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Getting your first phlebotomist job will be much easier with the assistance of a job placement program. Ask if the programs you are looking at offer assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a school has a high rate, meaning they place the majority of their students in jobs, it's an indication that the program has both an excellent reputation together with an extensive network of professional contacts within the Birmingham AL health care community.
Are Class Times Offered to Fit Your Schedule? And last, it's critical to make sure that the final program you choose provides classes at times that are compatible with your active lifestyle. This is particularly important if you choose to still work while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Birmingham AL, make sure they are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify it is an option also. Even if you have decided to attend online, with the practical training requirement, make sure those hours can also be fulfilled within your schedule. And find out what the make-up policy is should you need to miss any classes as a result of illness or emergencies.
Choose the Right Phlebotomy Training Program near Birmingham Alabama
Making certain that you choose the right phlebotomy training is a critical first step toward your success in this fulfilling health care career position. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that contribute toward the selection of a premium program. Phlebotomist training programs can be available in a wide range of educational institutes, including junior or community colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that provide a comprehensive range of programs in healthcare and medical sciences. Training program offerings may differ a bit from state to state as each state has its own criteria when it comes to phlebotomy training, certification and licensing. The most important point is that you must carefully research and compare each school prior to making your final choice. By addressing the questions that we have provided, you will be able to narrow down your options so that you can pick the ideal phlebotomist college for you. And with the appropriate education, you can reach your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Birmingham AL.