How to Select the Best Phlebotomist Training Program near Birmingham AL
Picking the ideal phlebotomy technician school near Birmingham AL is an important initial step toward a fulfilling profession as a phlebotomist. It might seem like a daunting undertaking to evaluate and compare each of the training options that are accessible to you. Nevertheless it's necessary that you do your due diligence to make certain that you receive a quality education. In reality, a large number of students begin their search by looking at two of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are location and cost. An additional option you may look into is whether to attend online classes or commute to a local campus. We'll review more about online classes later in this article. What you need to remember is that there is far more to checking out phlebotomy training programs than finding the cheapest or the closest one. Other factors such as accreditation and reputation are also important considerations and need to be part of your decision process too. Toward that end, we will furnish a list of questions that you should ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are evaluating to help you pick the ideal one for you. But prior to doing that, let's cover what a phlebotomist is and does, and then continue our discussion about online schools.
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Phlebotomy Technician Job Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, draws blood from patients. Although that is their principal duty, there is in fact so much more to their job description. Before drawing a blood sample, a phlebotomist has to confirm that the instruments being utilized are sterile and single use only. Following the collection, the sample has to be properly labeled with the patient's data. Afterward, paperwork has to be accurately filled out to be able to track the sample from the point of collection through the lab screening process. The phlebotomist then transports the blood to either an in-house lab or to an outside lab facility where it can be screened for such things as pregnancy, infectious diseases or blood type. Some phlebotomists in fact work in Birmingham AL labs and are responsible for making certain that samples are tested correctly utilizing the strictest quality assurance procedures. And if those weren't enough responsibilities, they may be called upon to instruct other phlebotomists in the collection, transport and follow-up process.
Where are Phlebotomy Techs Employed?
The quickest response is wherever they treat patients. Their workplaces are numerous and diverse, including Birmingham AL medical clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, or blood banks. They can be charged to draw blood samples from patients of of every age, from babies or toddlers to seniors. A number of phlebotomy techs, depending on their practice and their training, specialize in collecting blood from a certain type of patient. For instance, those working in a nursing home or assisted living facility would exclusively be drawing blood from older patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be collecting blood from newborns and mothers exclusively. In contrast, phlebotomists working in a general hospital setting would be drawing samples from a wide variety of patients and would work with different patients every day.
Phlebotomy Education, Licensing and Certification
There are primarily two types of programs that offer phlebotomy training, which are degree and certificate programs. The certificate program normally takes less than a year to finish and offers a general education as well as the training on how to draw blood. It offers the fastest route to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, although not specifically a phlebotomy degree, will include training on becoming a phlebotomy tech. Available at community and junior colleges, they normally take 2 years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are not as available and as a four year program offer a more expansive background in lab sciences. Once you have completed your training, you will probably want to become certified. While not mandated in the majority of states, most Birmingham AL employers look for certification prior to employing technicians. Some of the primary certifying organizations 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 prior to practicing as a phlebotomist, including Nevada and California. California and a few other states even require licensing. So it's essential that you select a phlebotomy training program that not only furnishes a superior education, but also readies you for any certification or licensing exams that you elect or are required to take.
Online Phlebotomy Classes
To start with, let's resolve one possible misconception. You can't receive all of your phlebotomist training online. A significant component of the course of study will be practical training and it will be performed either in an approved healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. Many courses also require completing an internship prior to graduation. But since the non-clinical part of the training can be attended online, it may be a more convenient alternative for some Birmingham AL students. As an added benefit, a number of online schools are less expensive than their on-campus competitors. And some costs, including those for commuting or textbooks, may be reduced also. Just verify that the online phlebotomist college you enroll in is accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). With both the comprehensive clinical and online training, you can obtain a superior education with this approach to learning. If you are disciplined enough to study at home, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the best option for you.
What to Ask Phlebotomy Schools
Since you now have a general idea about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomist, it's time to begin your due diligence process. You may have already selected the type of program you intend to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the college is important if you will be commuting from Birmingham AL as well as the tuition expense. Maybe you have opted to enroll in an accredited online phlebotomist program. Each of these decisions are an important part of the process for selecting a phlebotomy program or school. But they are not the sole considerations when making your decision. Following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are looking at before making your ultimate decision.
Is the Phlebotomy Program State Specific? As earlier discussed, each state has its own requirements for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Some states call for certification, while a few others require licensing. Every state has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum hours of practical training performed before working as a phlebotomy tech. As a result, you might need to pass a State Board, licensing or certification examination. Therefore it's extremely important to select a phlebotomy program that complies with the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing and prepares you for all examinations you may be required to take.
Is the Program Accredited? The phlebotomist program and school you select should be accredited by a reputable national or regional accrediting organization, such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are a number of advantages to graduating from an accredited program in addition to a guarantee of a premium education. To begin with, if your program is not accredited, you will not qualify to sit for a certification exam offered by any of the previously listed certifying organizations. Next, accreditation will help in obtaining financial aid or loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Finally, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited college can make you more attractive to potential employers in the Birmingham AL job market.
What is the College's Ranking? In many states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomy colleges, so there are those that are not of the highest caliber. So along with accreditation, it's essential to check the reputations of any schools you are reviewing. You can start by asking the schools for references from employers where they place their graduates as part of their job assistance program. You can research internet school rating and review services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. You can also talk to some Birmingham AL hospitals or clinics that you might be interested in working for and find out if they can provide any recommendations. As a final thought, you can check with the Alabama school licensing authority and ask if any complaints have been filed or if the schools are in full compliance.
Is Ample Training Included? First, contact the state regulator where you will be practicing to learn if there are any minimum requirements for the amount of training, both clinical and classroom. At a minimum, any phlebotomist program that you are considering should furnish at least 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of practical training. Anything below these minimums may indicate that the program is not comprehensive enough to provide sufficient training.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out from the programs you are considering if they have an internship program in collaboration with regional medical facilities. They are the optimal way to obtain hands-on practical training typically not available on campus. As an added benefit, internships can help students develop relationships within the local Birmingham AL medical community. And they are a plus on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing your first phlebotomist position will be a lot easier with the assistance of a job placement program. Find out if the programs you are considering provide assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a school has a high rate, signifying they place the majority of their students in jobs, it's an indication that the college has both a good reputation as well as a large 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 schedule. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while going to school. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Birmingham AL, make certain they are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm it is an option also. And if you have decided to attend online, with the practical training requirement, make sure those hours can also be completed within your schedule. And find out what the make-up procedure is should you need to miss any classes due to emergencies or illness.
Pick the Right Phlebotomist Training Program near Birmingham Alabama
Making sure that you enroll in the ideal phlebotomist training is an essential first step toward your success in this rewarding medical care career position. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that go into the selection of a superior program. Phlebotomist training programs are offered in a wide range of academic institutions, such as community or junior colleges, trade schools, and colleges and universities that offer an extensive array of courses in healthcare and medical sciences. Training program offerings can vary a bit across the country as each state has its own criteria when it comes to phlebotomy training, licensing and certification. The most critical point is that you need to thoroughly screen and compare each program prior to making your final choice. By addressing the questions that we have presented, you will be able to fine tune your choices so that you can select the best phlebotomist college for you. And with the proper education, you can accomplish your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Birmingham AL.