How to Pick the Best Phlebotomist School near Birmingham AL
Choosing the right phlebotomy technician training near Birmingham AL is an essential first step toward a fulfilling career as a phlebotomist. It might seem like a difficult task to investigate and compare each of the training options that are accessible to you. Nevertheless it's important that you do your due diligence to ensure that you get a quality education. In reality, most potential students start their search by looking at 2 of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are cost and location. Yet another option you might look into is whether to attend classes online or commute to a local campus. We'll review a bit more about online schools later in this article. What you need to keep in mind is that there is a lot more to checking out phlebotomy training programs than locating the cheapest or the closest one. Other factors including accreditation and reputation are also significant 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 evaluating to help you pick the best one for you. But prior to doing that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and then resume our conversation about online training.
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Phlebotomist Work Description
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, collects blood samples from patients. Although that is their principal task, there is actually so much more to their job description. Prior to collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist needs to check that the instruments being utilized are sterile and single use only. Following the collection, the sample needs to be properly labeled with the patient's data. Afterward, paperwork has to be correctly completed in order to track the sample from the point of collection through the laboratory screening procedure. The phlebotomist then delivers 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. Many phlebotomists actually work in Birmingham AL labs and are in charge of making certain that samples are analyzed properly under the strictest quality control procedures. And if those weren't enough responsibilities, they might be asked to train other phlebotomists in the drawing, delivery and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomy Techs Practice?
The quickest response is wherever patients are treated. Their work places are many and diverse, such as Birmingham AL medical clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, or blood banks. They can be charged to collect blood samples from patients of all ages, from babies or young children to seniors. Some phlebotomy techs, based on their practice and their training, specialize in drawing samples from a specific type of patient. For example, those working in a nursing home or assisted living facility would solely be drawing blood from senior patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from mothers and newborns solely. In contrast, phlebotomists working in a general hospital environment would be drawing blood from a wide range of patients and would collect samples from different patients every day.
Phlebotomy Technician 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 less than a year to finish and provides 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, even though it's not specifically a phlebotomy degree, will provide training on becoming a phlebotomy tech. Available at junior and community colleges, they usually take 2 years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are not as accessible and as a four year program furnish a more expansive background in lab sciences. Once you have finished your training, you will no doubt want to get certified. Although not mandated in the majority of states, many Birmingham AL employers require certification prior to hiring technicians. A few 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 some states that do require certification in order to practice as a phlebotomy tech, such as California and Nevada. California and a handful of other states even require licensing. So it's imperative that you pick a phlebotomy training program that not only offers a superior education, but also prepares you for any licensing or certification exams that you are required or elect to take.
Online Phlebotomy Training
First, let's resolve one likely mistaken belief. You can't obtain all of your phlebotomist training online. A substantial component of the curriculum will be clinical training and it will be carried out either in an approved healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. Many courses also require completing an internship in order to graduate. However since the non-clinical component of the training may be attended online, it may be a more convenient option for many Birmingham AL students. As an additional benefit, some online classes are less expensive than their traditional counterparts. And some expenses, for instance those for commuting or textbooks, may be lowered as well. Just make sure that the online phlebotomy school you select is accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). With both the extensive clinical and online training, you can receive a premium education with this method of learning. If you are disciplined enough to learn at home, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the best choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Phlebotomy Schools
Since you now have a basic idea about what it takes to become a phlebotomist, it's time to initiate your due diligence process. You might have already decided on the kind of program you intend to enroll in, whether it be for a certificate or a degree. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the campus is important if you will be commuting from Birmingham AL as well as the tuition expense. Possibly you have opted to enroll in an accredited online phlebotomy school. Each of these decisions are a critical component of the procedure for choosing a phlebotomy program or school. But they are not the sole considerations when making your decision. Following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the colleges you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection.
Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to Alabama? As previously mentioned, each state has its own regulations for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Some states call for certification, while a few others require licensing. Every state has its own requirement regarding the minimum amount of practical training performed prior to practicing as a phlebotomist. As a result, you might need to pass a State Board, certification or licensing exam. Therefore it's very important to enroll in a phlebotomy program that satisfies the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing and readies you for all examinations you may be required to take.
Is the College Accredited? The phlebotomy school and program you pick should be accredited by a recognized national or regional accrediting organization, such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are a number of benefits to graduating from an accredited school aside from a guarantee of a premium education. To begin with, if your program is not accredited, you will not be able to sit for a certification examination administered by any of the previously listed certifying agencies. Also, accreditation will help in obtaining financial aid or loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Last, graduating from an accredited college can make you more attractive to future employers in the Birmingham AL job market.
What is the School's Ranking? In numerous states there is little 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 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 ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. You can also talk to several Birmingham AL clinics or hospitals that you may have an interest in working for and find out if they can offer any insights. 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 schools are in full compliance.
Is Ample Training Provided? To begin with, 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 classroom and practical. 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 below these minimums might indicate that the program is not comprehensive enough to provide adequate training.
Are Internships Included? Ask the schools you are reviewing if they have an internship program in collaboration with area medical facilities. They are the optimal way to get hands-on practical training frequently not available on campus. As an added benefit, internships can help students develop relationships within the local Birmingham AL healthcare community. And they are a plus on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Available? Getting your first phlebotomy job will be much easier with the assistance of a job placement program. Ask if the colleges you are looking at provide assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a school has a higher rate, signifying they place the majority 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 Available as Needed? Finally, it's crucial to make sure that the ultimate program you select offers classes at times that are compatible with your busy lifestyle. This is especially true if you decide to continue working while going to college. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Birmingham AL, make sure they are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend part-time, make sure it is an option as well. Even if you have decided to study online, with the clinical training requirement, make certain those hours can also be completed within your schedule. And find out what the make-up protocol is in case you need to miss any classes as a result of illness or emergencies.
Choose the Right Phlebotomy Training near Birmingham Alabama
Making certain that you choose the right phlebotomy training is an important first step toward your success in this rewarding healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that contribute toward the selection of a quality school. Phlebotomy training programs are available in a wide range of academic institutes, including community or junior colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that provide a comprehensive range of courses in medical care and health sciences. Program offerings can vary somewhat across the country as every state has its own requirements when it comes to phlebotomist training, certification and licensing. The most critical point is that you must carefully research and compare each school before making your final selection. By asking the questions that we have provided, you will be able to narrow down your choices so that you can pick the ideal phlebotomy school for you. And with the proper training, you can realize your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Birmingham AL.