How to Choose the Right Phlebotomist Training Program near Birmingham AL
Picking the ideal phlebotomy technician training near Birmingham AL is an essential first step toward a fulfilling career as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a daunting task to analyze and compare all of the training options that are available to you. Nevertheless it's vital that you perform your due diligence to make certain that you get a superior education. In reality, a large number of students start their search by considering 2 of the qualifiers that initially come to mind, which are location and cost. An additional option you might look into is whether to attend classes online or commute to a local campus. We'll discuss more about online classes later in this article. What you need to keep in mind is that there is a lot more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than finding the closest or the cheapest one. Other factors such as accreditation and reputation are also significant considerations and need to be part of your decision process also. Toward that end, we will furnish 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 prior to doing that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards resume our discussion about online training.
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Phlebotomy Technician Job Description
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy tech, collects blood samples from patients. Although that is their main responsibility, there is in fact so much more to their job description. Before collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist must check that the instruments being used are single use only and sterile. Following the collection, the sample must be correctly labeled with the patient's data. Afterward, paperwork must be properly filled out in order to track the sample from the point of collection through the laboratory screening process. The phlebotomist then transports the blood to either an in-house lab or to an outside lab facility where it may be screened for such things as pregnancy, infectious diseases or blood type. Some phlebotomists actually work in Birmingham AL labs and are responsible for making certain that samples are tested correctly under the highest quality assurance procedures. And if those weren't enough responsibilities, they may be required to instruct other phlebotomists in the drawing, transport and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomy Techs Practice?
The simplest answer is wherever patients are treated. Their workplaces are numerous and diverse, such as Birmingham AL medical clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, or blood centers. They may be charged to collect blood samples from patients of all ages, from infants or toddlers to senior citizens. A number of phlebotomists, based on their practice and their training, specialize in drawing samples from a specific kind of patient. For example, those practicing in an assisted living facility or nursing home would exclusively be collecting blood from older patients. If they are practicing 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 drawing samples from a wide range of patients and would work with different patients every day.
Phlebotomist Training, Certification and Licensing
There are essentially 2 kinds of programs that provide phlebotomist training, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program usually takes under a year to complete and offers a basic education together with the training on how to draw blood. It offers the fastest means to becoming a phlebotomy tech. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, although not exclusively a phlebotomist degree, will include training on becoming a phlebotomist. Offered at junior and community colleges, they usually require 2 years to complete. Bachelor's Degrees are not as accessible and as a 4 year program offer a more extensive foundation in lab sciences. Once you have completed your training, you will no doubt want to become certified. While not mandated in the majority of states, most Birmingham AL employers look for certification prior to hiring technicians. Some of the primary certifying agencies include:
- National Phlebotomy Association
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
There are several states that do require certification in order to practice as a phlebotomy tech, including California and Nevada. California and a few additional states even require licensing. So it's imperative that you select a phlebotomy training program that not only provides a premium education, but also readies you for any licensing or certification exams that you are required or elect to take.
Phlebotomist Online Training
To begin with, let's dispel one potential misconception. You can't receive all of your phlebotomist training online. A substantial portion of the program of studies will be practical training and it will be performed either in an on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. Numerous courses also require completing an internship in order to graduate. But since the non-practical 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 schools are more affordable than their traditional competitors. And some expenses, such as those for textbooks or commuting, may be reduced also. Just make sure that the online phlebotomist college you choose is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency (more on accreditation to follow). With both the extensive clinical and online training, you can receive a superior education with this approach to learning. If you are disciplined enough to study at home, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Should You Go to School to Become a Phlebotomy Tech?First of all, few people probably know what a phlebotomist or phlebotomy technician is. As we have already discussed, the basic definition is a health care professional whose job is to draw blood. So of course anyone who selects 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 now let’s talk about the patients. Phlebotomy Techs routinely work around anxious people who hate needles or having their blood drawn. And because most health care facilities are open around the clock, you will probably be required to work weekends, nights and, you guessed it even on holidays. But if you can handle the hours and the needles and blood, and if you enjoy helping people and are patient and compassionate, this could be the right job for you.
Topics to Ask Phlebotomy Colleges
Now that you have a general idea about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomist, it's time to begin your due diligence process. You might have already selected the type of program you wish to enroll in, whether it be for a certificate or a degree. As we previously mentioned, the location of the college is significant if you will be commuting from Birmingham AL as well as the cost of tuition. Possibly you have decided to enroll in an accredited online phlebotomy program. Each of these decisions are an important component of the procedure for choosing a phlebotomy program or school. But they are not the only considerations when arriving at your decision. Following are some questions that you should ask about all of the colleges you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Phlebotomy Program State Specific? As mentioned previously, each state has its own regulations for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Several states require certification, while some others mandate licensing. Every state has its own requirement regarding the minimum amount of practical training completed before working as a phlebotomist. As a result, you might need to pass a State Board, certification or licensing exam. Therefore it's extremely important to enroll in a phlebotomy program that complies with the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working and prepares you for any exams you may be required to take.
Is the School Accredited? The phlebotomist program and school you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded 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 is not accredited, you will not be able to take a certification examination administered by any of the previously listed certifying organizations. Next, accreditation will help in obtaining loans or financial assistance, which are typically unavailable for non-accredited colleges. Finally, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited school can make you more attractive to future employers in the Birmingham AL job market.
What is the School's Ranking? In a number of states there is little or no regulation of phlebotomy colleges, so there are some that are not of the highest caliber. So along with accreditation, it's important to investigate the reputations of all schools you are looking at. You can begin by asking the schools for references from employers where they refer their graduates as part of their job placement program. You can screen internet school rating and review services and solicit the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. You can also talk to a few Birmingham AL hospitals or clinics that you might be interested in working for and find out if they can offer any insights. As a closing thought, you can contact the Alabama school licensing authority and find out if any complaints have been submitted or if the schools are in total compliance.
Is Plenty of Training Provided? First, check with the state regulator where you will be practicing to find out if there are any minimum requirements for the length of training, both clinical and classroom. As a minimum, any phlebotomist program that you are looking at should provide no less than 40 hours of classroom training (most require 120) and 120 hours of practical training. Anything less than these minimums may indicate that the program is not expansive enough to provide adequate training.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out from the programs you are looking at if they have an internship program in partnership with area health care facilities. They are the optimal means to receive hands-on clinical training often not available on campus. As an additional benefit, internships can help students develop relationships within the local Birmingham AL medical community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding your first phlebotomy job will be much easier with the assistance of a job placement program. Inquire if the programs you are looking at provide assistance and what their job placement percentage is. If a school has a high rate, signifying they place most of their students in positions, it's an indication that the program has both an excellent reputation together with a substantial network of professional contacts within the Birmingham AL medical community.
Are Class Times Compatible With Your Schedule? And last, it's crucial to verify that the final school you pick provides classes at times that are compatible with your hectic schedule. This is particularly true if you choose to still work while going to college. If you need to 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 part-time, 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 ask what the make-up protocol is in case you need to miss any classes due to emergencies or illness.
Pick the Best Phlebotomy Training near Birmingham Alabama
Making certain that you pick the most suitable phlebotomist training is a critical first step toward your success in this gratifying medical care field. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that contribute toward the selection of a premium program. Phlebotomy certificate or degree programs are available in a number of academic institutions, such as junior or community colleges, trade schools, and colleges and universities that provide an extensive range of courses in healthcare and medical sciences. Course options can vary a bit across the country as each state has its own prerequisites when it comes to phlebotomist training, licensing and certification. The most important point is that you need to diligently evaluate and compare each program prior to making your ultimate choice. By asking the questions that we have furnished, you will be able to narrow down your choices so that you can pick the ideal phlebotomy college for you. And with the appropriate education, you can accomplish your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Birmingham AL.