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Become a Phlebotomist in Birmingham Alabama

How to Select the Best Phlebotomy Training Course near Birmingham AL

Birmingham AL phlebotomy tech drawing blood from patientSelecting the ideal phlebotomist training near Birmingham AL is an essential initial step toward a fulfilling career as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a daunting undertaking to evaluate and compare each of the school alternatives that are available to you. Nevertheless it's important that you do your due diligence to ensure that you obtain a superior education. In reality, a large number of potential students begin the process by looking at two of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are cost and location. An additional option you may consider is whether to attend online classes or commute to an area campus. We'll review more about online classes later in this article. What's important to remember is that there is far more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than locating the closest or the cheapest one. Other factors including accreditation and reputation are also important considerations and need to be part of your selection process also. To assist in that effort, we will supply a list of questions that you should ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are assessing to help you select the best one for you. But before we do that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards continue our conversation about online classes.

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Phlebotomy Tech Career Summary

Birmingham AL phlebotomy laboratory technicianA phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, draws blood from patients. While that is their primary task, there is actually far more to their job description. Before collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist has to check that the instruments being employed are sterile and single use only. Following the collection, the sample has to be correctly labeled with the patient's information. Next, paperwork has to be properly completed to be able to track the sample from the point of collection through the lab screening procedure. 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 infectious diseases, pregnancy or blood type. Some phlebotomists actually work in Birmingham AL labs and are accountable for making certain that samples are analyzed correctly under the highest quality control procedures. And if those weren't sufficient responsibilities, they might be required to train other phlebotomists in the collection, delivery and follow-up process.

Where do Phlebotomy Techs Practice?

The most basic response is wherever they treat patients. Their work places are many and varied, such as Birmingham AL medical clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, or blood centers. They can be charged to collect blood samples from patients of all ages, from infants or toddlers to senior citizens. A number of phlebotomists, depending on their training and their practice, specialize in drawing blood from a certain kind of patient. For example, those practicing in an assisted living facility or nursing home would only be drawing blood from senior patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be collecting blood from newborns and mothers solely. On the other hand, phlebotomy technicians practicing in a general hospital environment would be collecting blood from a wide variety of patients and would collect samples from new patients on a daily basis.

Phlebotomy Training, Licensing and Certification

blood testing done in Birmingham AL labThere are essentially two kinds of programs that offer phlebotomy training, which are degree and certificate programs. The certificate program typically takes less than a year to complete and offers a general education along with the training on how to draw blood. It offers the quickest means to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, even though it's not specifically a phlebotomist degree, will provide training on becoming a phlebotomy tech. Offered at junior and community colleges, they typically take two years to complete. Bachelor's Degrees are less accessible and as a 4 year program furnish a more expansive background in lab sciences. After you have finished your training, you will probably want to get certified. While not mandated in most 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 a few states that do require certification in order to practice as a phlebotomy tech, like Nevada and California. California and a few other states even require licensing. So it's essential that you enroll in a phlebotomy training program that not only provides a premium education, but also readies you for any licensing or certification examinations that you are required or elect to take.

Phlebotomist Online Certificates and Degrees

Birmingham AL woman attending phlebotomy classes onlineTo begin with, let's dispel one potential misconception. You can't receive all of your phlebotomy training online. A significant portion of the curriculum will be clinical training and it will be carried out either in an approved healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. Numerous courses also require completion of an internship in order to graduate. But since the non-practical portion of the training can be accessed online, it might be a more practical option for some Birmingham AL students. As an added benefit, many online programs are less expensive than their traditional counterparts. And some costs, such as those for commuting or textbooks, may be lowered also. Just make certain that the online phlebotomist school you enroll in is accredited by a national or regional accrediting organization (more on accreditation later). With both the comprehensive clinical and online training, you can receive a superior education with this means of learning. If you are disciplined enough to learn at home, then attaining your degree or certificate online might be the best choice for you.

Should You Train to Be a Phlebotomy Tech?

Right out of the gate, few people are likely to know what a phlebotomy tech or phlebotomist is. As we have already discussed, the short answer is a medical professional whose job is to draw blood. So of course anyone who chooses this profession must be able to handle blood and needles. And if you are anxious in hospitals or other Birmingham AL medical facilities, well this profession may not be right for you. And then there are the patients. Phlebotomy Techs often work with anxious people who don’t like needles or having a blood sample taken. And because many medical facilities are open 24 hours, you may be expected to work weekends, nights and even on holidays. But if you can handle the hours and the needles and blood, and if you enjoy interacting with people and are compassionate and very patient, this may be the perfect profession for you.

What to Ask Phlebotomist Schools

Questions to ask Birmingham AL phlebotomy schoolsNow that you have a general idea about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomy tech, it's time to start your due diligence process. You might have already selected the type of program you wish to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school is relevant if you will be commuting from Birmingham AL as well as the cost of tuition. Perhaps you have decided to enroll in an accredited online phlebotomist school. All of these decisions are a critical part of the procedure for selecting a phlebotomy school or program. But they are not the only considerations when making your decision. Below we have provided some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision.

Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to Your State? As previously mentioned, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Some states require certification, while some others require licensing. Every state has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum hours of clinical training performed before working as a phlebotomist. Consequently, you might have to pass a State Board, licensing or certification exam. Therefore it's very important to choose a phlebotomy program that meets the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing and preps you for all examinations you may be required to take.

Is the Program Accredited? The phlebotomy school and program you select should be accredited by a respected national or regional accrediting agency, such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are many benefits to graduating from an accredited program in addition to a guarantee of a superior education. First, if your program has not received accreditation, you will not be able to take a certification exam administered by any of the previously listed certifying organizations. Next, accreditation will help in obtaining loans or financial assistance, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Last, graduating from an accredited college can make you more attractive to prospective employers in the Birmingham AL job market.

What is the Program's Ranking? In a number of states there is little or no regulation of phlebotomist schools, so there are those that are not of the highest quality. So in addition to accreditation, it's essential to check the reputations of any colleges you are reviewing. You can begin by requesting references from the schools from employers where they place their students as part of their job assistance program. You can screen online school rating and review services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. You can also check with several Birmingham AL hospitals or clinics that you may be interested in working for and see if they can offer any insights. As a final thought, you can contact the Alabama school licensing authority and ask if any complaints have been filed or if the schools are in full compliance.

Is Enough Training Provided? To begin with, contact 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. As a minimum, any phlebotomy program that you are looking at should furnish at least 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of clinical training. Anything lower than these minimums may signify that the program is not comprehensive enough to offer adequate training.

Are Internships Provided? Ask the schools you are looking at if they have an internship program in collaboration with area healthcare facilities. They are the optimal way to obtain hands-on clinical training often not provided on campus. As an added benefit, internships can assist students develop contacts within the local Birmingham AL medical community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting your first phlebotomist job will be much easier with the help of a job placement program. Find out if the schools you are reviewing offer assistance and what their job placement percentage is. If a school has a higher rate, signifying they place the majority of their students in positions, it's an indication that the school has both a good reputation along with an extensive network of professional contacts within the Birmingham AL health care community.

Are Classes Conveniently Scheduled? Finally, it's important to verify that the final college you pick provides classes at times that are compatible with your busy lifestyle. This is particularly true if you choose to still work while going to college. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, make certain they are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify it is an option as well. And if you have decided to study online, with the clinical training requirement, make certain those hours can also be fulfilled within your schedule. And ask what the make-up policy is in case you need to miss any classes due to emergencies or illness.

Enroll in the Right Phlebotomy Training Program near Birmingham Alabama

Making certain that you pick the right phlebotomist training is an important first step toward your success in this rewarding medical care field. As we have discussed in this article, there are multiple factors that contribute toward the selection of a superior college. Phlebotomist training programs are found in a variety of educational institutions, including community or junior colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that provide an extensive assortment of courses in healthcare and medical sciences. Training program offerings can vary a bit from state to state as every state has its own mandates when it comes to phlebotomy training, licensing and certification. The most critical point is that you must diligently evaluate and compare each college before making your ultimate selection. By asking the questions that we have provided, you will be able to fine tune your choices so that you can pick the ideal phlebotomist college for you. And with the appropriate education, you can achieve your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Birmingham AL.