How to Choose the Best Phlebotomy Tech School near Birmingham AL
Selecting the ideal phlebotomist training near Birmingham AL is an important initial step toward a fulfilling career as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a daunting undertaking to analyze and compare each of the school options that are accessible to you. However it's necessary that you complete your due diligence to ensure that you get a superior education. In fact, most prospective students begin the process by looking at two of the qualifiers that initially come to mind, which are location and cost. An additional option you may consider is whether to attend classes online or commute to an area campus. We'll talk a bit more about online schools later in this article. What's important to remember is that there is much more to checking out phlebotomy training programs than finding the closest or the cheapest one. Other variables such as reputation and accreditation are also important considerations and need to be part of your selection process as well. Toward that end, we will provide a list of questions that you need to ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are evaluating to help you pick the right one for you. But prior to doing that, let's cover what a phlebotomist is and does, and then resume our conversation about online schools.
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Phlebotomist Job Description
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, collects blood samples from patients. While that is their main function, there is actually far more to their job description. Before collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist needs to verify that the tools being employed are single use only and sterile. Following the collection, the sample needs to be accurately labeled with the patient's information. Next, paperwork needs to be properly completed to be able to track the sample from the time of collection through the laboratory screening procedure. The phlebotomist then transports the blood to either an an outside lab facility or an in-house lab where it may be tested for such things as infectious diseases, pregnancy or blood type. Many phlebotomists actually work in Birmingham AL labs and are accountable for making sure that samples are tested properly utilizing the highest quality assurance procedures. And if those weren't enough responsibilities, they might be asked to instruct other phlebotomists in the drawing, transport and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomy Techs Work?
The most basic response is wherever they treat patients. Their workplaces are many and varied, including Birmingham AL medical clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, or blood banks. They may be tasked to draw blood samples from patients of of every age, from infants or toddlers to senior citizens. Some phlebotomy techs, depending on their practice and their training, specialize in collecting samples from a particular kind of patient. For instance, those practicing 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 drawing 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 range of patients and would collect samples from new patients each day.
Phlebotomy Education, Licensing and Certification
There are primarily 2 types of programs that offer phlebotomist training, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program normally takes under a year to complete and offers a basic education together with the training on how to draw blood. It provides the fastest route to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, although not specifically a phlebotomy degree, will incorporate training to become a phlebotomy tech. Available at junior and community colleges, they typically require two years to complete. Bachelor's Degrees are not as accessible and as a four year program furnish a more extensive foundation in lab sciences. When you have finished your training, you will no doubt want to get certified. While not required in most states, most Birmingham AL employers look for certification prior to hiring technicians. Some of the main certifying agencies 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 phlebotomist, including Nevada and California. California and a few other states even require licensing. So it's important that you pick a phlebotomy training program that not only offers a premium education, but also preps you for any certification or licensing examinations that you elect or are required to take.
Online Phlebotomy Classes
To start with, let's resolve one potential mistaken belief. You can't get all of your phlebotomist training online. A substantial part of the curriculum will be practical 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-clinical part of the training can be accessed online, it could be a more practical alternative for many Birmingham AL students. As an additional benefit, some online programs are less expensive than their on-campus competitors. And some expenditures, for instance those for commuting or textbooks, may be lessened also. Just make certain that the online phlebotomy school you enroll in is accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). With both the comprehensive online and clinical training, you can receive a superior education with this method of learning. If you are disciplined enough to learn at home, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Phlebotomist Colleges
Since you now have a basic understanding about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomy tech, it's time to begin your due diligence process. You may have already selected the type of program you want to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we previously mentioned, the location of the campus is significant if you will be commuting from Birmingham AL in addition to the tuition expense. Maybe you have decided to enroll in an accredited online phlebotomist program. All of these decisions are a critical component of the procedure for choosing a phlebotomy school or program. But they are not the sole considerations when arriving at your decision. Following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the colleges 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 phlebotomist. Several states require certification, while some others require licensing. Each has its own requirement regarding the minimum amount of clinical training completed before practicing as a phlebotomy tech. Consequently, you might have to pass a State Board, certification or licensing examination. Therefore it's extremely important to choose a phlebotomist program that complies with the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working and prepares 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 recognized 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 school 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 exam offered by any of the earlier listed certifying organizations. Next, accreditation will help in obtaining loans or financial assistance, which are often unavailable for non-accredited colleges. Last, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited college can make you more attractive to future employers in the Birmingham AL job market.
What is the College's Reputation? In numerous states there is little or no regulation of phlebotomist schools, so there are those that are not of the highest caliber. So along with accreditation, it's imperative to check the reputations of all colleges you are looking at. You can start by asking the schools for references from employers where they refer their students as part of their job assistance program. You can research internet school reviews and rating services and solicit the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. You can even check with a few Birmingham AL clinics or hospitals that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations. As a final thought, you can contact the Alabama school licensing authority and ask if any complaints have been submitted or if the colleges are in full compliance.
Is Sufficient Training Included? To begin with, contact the state regulator where you will be working to learn if there are any minimum requirements for the length of training, both clinical and classroom. At a minimum, any phlebotomy program that you are reviewing 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 comprehensive enough to furnish adequate training.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask the schools you are reviewing if they have an internship program in collaboration with regional healthcare facilities. They are the ideal means to receive hands-on clinical training typically not available 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing your first phlebotomist job will be a lot easier with the help of a job placement program. Ask if the programs you are considering 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 an excellent reputation together with an extensive network of professional contacts within the Birmingham AL healthcare community.
Are Classes Compatible With Your Schedule? Finally, it's important to confirm that the ultimate program you select offers classes at times that are compatible with your active schedule. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Birmingham AL, check that they are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend part-time, make sure it is an option also. Even if you have decided to study online, with the practical training requirement, make certain those hours can also be fulfilled within your schedule. And find out what the make-up policy is in case you have to miss any classes because of emergencies or illness.
Choose the Right Phlebotomist Training Program near Birmingham Alabama
Making certain that you choose the most suitable phlebotomist training is an important first step toward your success in this rewarding health care career position. As we have covered in this article, there are multiple factors that go into the selection of a premium program. Phlebotomy certificate or degree programs can be found in a variety of educational institutions, including junior or community colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that provide an extensive array of programs in healthcare and medical sciences. Program options may vary a bit from state to state as each state has its own prerequisites when it concerns phlebotomy training, certification and licensing. The most critical point is that you must thoroughly screen and compare each school before making your ultimate selection. By addressing the questions that we have furnished, you will be able to fine tune your options so that you can select the right phlebotomy college for you. And with the proper education, you can reach your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Birmingham AL.