How to Find the Best Phlebotomy Training Classes near Birmingham AL
Enrolling in the right phlebotomy training near Birmingham AL is a critical first step toward a rewarding career as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a daunting task to analyze and compare each of the training options that are accessible to you. Nevertheless it's vital that you complete your due diligence to ensure that you obtain a superior education. In reality, many potential students start the process by considering two of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are cost and location. An additional factor you may consider is whether to attend classes online or commute to an area campus. We'll talk a bit more about online classes later in this article. What you need to keep in mind is that there is much more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than finding the closest or the cheapest one. Other factors including accreditation and reputation are also important considerations and must be part of your selection process also. Toward that end, we will provide a list of questions that you need to ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are reviewing to help you select the right one for you. But prior to doing that, let's cover what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards continue our conversation about online training.
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Phlebotomy Technician Work Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy tech, draws blood 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 must confirm that the tools being employed are sterile and single use only. Following the collection, the sample must be correctly labeled with the patient's information. Afterward, paperwork has to be correctly filled out to be able to track the sample from the point of collection through the laboratory testing 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 in fact work in Birmingham AL labs and are responsible for making sure that samples are tested properly under the strictest quality control procedures. And if those weren't enough duties, they may be asked to train other phlebotomists in the drawing, delivery and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomy Techs Work?
The easiest answer is wherever they treat patients. Their workplaces are numerous and diverse, such as Birmingham AL medical clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, or blood centers. They may be charged to draw blood samples from patients of all ages, from babies or toddlers to senior citizens. Some phlebotomy techs, based on their practice and their training, specialize in collecting samples from a certain kind of patient. For example, those working in a nursing home or assisted living facility would solely be collecting blood from elderly patients. If they are practicing in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from mothers and newborns exclusively. On the other hand, phlebotomy technicians working in a general hospital setting would be drawing samples from a wide range of patients and would work with different patients each day.
Phlebotomy Technician Education, Certification and Licensing
There are primarily 2 types of programs that offer phlebotomist training, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program typically takes less than a year to complete and offers a basic education along with the training on how to draw blood. It provides the quickest method to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, even though it's not specifically a phlebotomy degree, will provide training to become a phlebotomist. Available at junior and community colleges, they typically take two years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are not as available and as a 4 year program provide a more comprehensive background in lab sciences. After you have finished your training, you will probably want to get certified. While not required in most states, a number of Birmingham AL employers require certification prior to hiring 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 prior to practicing as a phlebotomy tech, including Nevada and California. California and a handful of additional states even require licensing. So it's essential that you choose a phlebotomist training program that not only provides a premium education, but also readies you for any licensing or certification examinations that you elect or are required to take.
Phlebotomy Online Certificates and Degrees
To start with, let's dispel one possible mistaken belief. You can't get all of your phlebotomist training online. A significant portion of the program of studies will be clinical training and it will be carried out either in an approved healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. A large number of courses also require completing an internship in order to graduate. However since the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed online, it can be a more practical alternative for many Birmingham AL students. As an added benefit, some online classes are more affordable than their on-campus competitors. And some expenditures, such as those for textbooks or commuting, may be reduced as well. Just confirm that the online phlebotomist school you choose is accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). With both the extensive online and clinical training, you can obtain a quality education with this method of learning. If you are dedicated enough to study at home, then attaining your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Phlebotomy Colleges
Now that you have a basic understanding about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomist, it's time to begin your due diligence process. You might have already decided on the kind of program you wish to enroll in, whether it be for a certificate or a degree. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the college is significant if you will be commuting from Birmingham AL in addition to the cost of tuition. Maybe you have decided to enroll in an accredited phlebotomy online program. All of these decisions are a critical part of the process for choosing a phlebotomy school or program. But they are not the sole considerations when arriving at your decision. Following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the colleges you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection.
Is the Phlebotomy Program State Specific? As earlier discussed, each state has its own requirements for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Several states require certification, while some others require licensing. Every state has its own requirement regarding the minimum amount of clinical training completed before practicing as a phlebotomy tech. Consequently, you might need to pass a State Board, licensing or certification examination. Therefore it's extremely important to select a phlebotomy program that satisfies the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working and preps you for any examinations you may be required to take.
Is the College Accredited? The phlebotomist school and program you select should be accredited by a highly regarded regional or national accrediting organization, such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are many benefits to graduating from an accredited program aside from an assurance of a quality education. First, if your program is not accredited, you will not qualify to take a certification exam administered by any of the earlier listed certifying agencies. Also, accreditation will help in getting financial aid or loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Finally, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited school can make you more attractive to prospective employers in the Birmingham AL job market.
What is the Program's Ranking? In many states there is little or no regulation of phlebotomy schools, so there are some that are not of the highest caliber. So along with accreditation, it's important to check out the reputations of any colleges you are looking at. 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 research online school rating and review services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. You can even contact some Birmingham AL clinics or hospitals that you might have an interest in working for and see if they can offer any recommendations. As a final thought, you can check with the Alabama school licensing authority and find out if any complaints have been filed or if the colleges are in total compliance.
Is Ample Training Included? To begin with, check with the state regulator where you will be working to find out if there are any minimum requirements for the length of training, both clinical and classroom. As a minimum, any phlebotomy program that you are reviewing should provide no less than 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of practical training. Anything less than these minimums may signify that the program is not expansive enough to offer adequate training.
Are Internships Provided? Ask the schools you are considering if they have an internship program in partnership with local medical facilities. They are the ideal means to receive hands-on clinical training typically not provided on campus. As an additional benefit, internships can help students establish relationships within the local Birmingham AL healthcare community. And they are a plus on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing your first phlebotomy position will be much easier with the help of a job placement program. Find out if the programs you are looking at offer assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a college has a higher rate, meaning they place most of their students in positions, it's an indication that the college has both a good reputation along with an extensive network of professional contacts within the Birmingham AL health care community.
Are Classes Conveniently Scheduled? And last, it's critical to make sure that the ultimate school you select offers classes at times that will accommodate your busy schedule. This is especially true if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, make sure they are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure it is an option also. Even if you have decided to attend online, with the practical training requirement, make certain those hours can also be completed within your schedule. And ask what the make-up protocol is should you have to miss any classes due to emergencies or illness.
Choose the Best Phlebotomy Training near Birmingham Alabama
Making certain that you pick the most suitable phlebotomist training is an essential first step toward your success in this gratifying medical care field. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple factors that contribute toward the selection of a quality school. Phlebotomist certificate or degree programs can be offered in a number of academic institutes, such as community or junior colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that offer an extensive array of courses in medical care and health sciences. Program offerings may vary somewhat from state to state as each state has its own prerequisites when it pertains to phlebotomy training, licensing and certification. The most important point is that you need to carefully screen and compare each college before making your ultimate choice. By asking the questions that we have provided, you will be able to fine tune your options so that you can pick the best phlebotomist college for you. And with the appropriate education, you can achieve your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Birmingham AL.