How to Find the Best Phlebotomy Training Classes near Birmingham AL
Enrolling in the ideal phlebotomy school near Birmingham AL is an important initial step toward a gratifying profession as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a challenging task to investigate and compare all of the school alternatives that are available to you. However it's vital that you complete your due diligence to make sure that you obtain a quality education. In reality, a large number of students begin their search by looking at 2 of the qualifiers that initially 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 nearby campus. We'll review a bit more about online classes later in this article. What's important to remember is that there is a lot more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than finding the closest or the cheapest one. Other variables such as accreditation and reputation are also significant considerations and need to be part of your decision process also. Toward that end, we will supply a list of questions that you need to ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are assessing to help you choose the best one for you. But prior to doing that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards resume our conversation about online classes.
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Phlebotomist Job Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy tech, draws blood from patients. While that is their primary function, there is in fact so much more to their job description. Before collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist needs to confirm that the instruments being employed are sterile and single use only. Following the collection, the sample needs to be correctly labeled with the patient's information. Afterward, paperwork must be correctly completed in order to track the sample from the point of collection through the laboratory testing process. The phlebotomist then delivers the blood to either an an outside lab facility or an in-house lab where it can be tested for such things as infectious diseases, pregnancy or blood type. Many phlebotomists actually work in Birmingham AL labs and are in charge of ensuring that samples are tested properly under the strictest quality control procedures. And if those weren't enough duties, they can be asked to train other phlebotomists in the collection, delivery and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomists Work?
The simplest response is wherever they treat patients. Their work environments are many and diverse, including Birmingham AL hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, or blood banks. They may be charged to draw blood samples from patients of of every age, from infants or toddlers to senior citizens. Some phlebotomists, depending on their practice and their training, specialize in drawing samples from a particular type of patient. For example, those working in an assisted living facility or nursing home would only be collecting blood from elderly patients. If they are practicing in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from mothers and newborns solely. On the other hand, phlebotomy technicians practicing in a general hospital setting would be drawing blood from a wide range of patients and would work with new patients on a daily basis.
Phlebotomy Technician Training, Licensing and Certification
There are basically two types of programs that provide phlebotomist training, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program typically takes under a year to finish and provides a basic education as well as the training on how to draw blood. It offers the fastest route to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, even though it's not exclusively a phlebotomist degree, will provide training to become a phlebotomist. Available at junior and community colleges, they usually take 2 years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are less available and as a four year program provide a more extensive foundation in lab sciences. Once you have completed your training, you will no doubt want to get certified. While not required in most states, a number of Birmingham AL employers require certification before employing technicians. Some of the main certifying organizations 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 prior to practicing as a phlebotomist, such as California and Nevada. California and a few other states even require licensing. So it's essential that you enroll in a phlebotomy training program that not only supplies a premium education, but also readies you for any certification or licensing exams that you elect or are required to take.
Phlebotomist Online Colleges
To begin with, let's resolve one potential mistaken belief. You can't obtain all of your phlebotomist training online. A substantial portion of the course of study will be practical training and it will be performed either in an approved healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. Many courses also require completing an internship prior to graduation. But since the non-clinical component of the training may be accessed online, it can be a more convenient alternative for some Birmingham AL students. As an additional benefit, many online schools are more affordable than their on-campus counterparts. And some expenses, for instance those for commuting or textbooks, may be lessened also. Just confirm that the online phlebotomist program you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency (more on accreditation to follow). With both the extensive clinical and online training, you can obtain a premium education with this approach to learning. If you are disciplined enough to learn at home, then attaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Phlebotomist Schools
Since you now have a general understanding about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomy tech, it's time to begin your due diligence process. You may have already decided on the kind of program you wish to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the college is important if you will be commuting from Birmingham AL as well as the cost of tuition. Perhaps you have opted to enroll in an accredited phlebotomist online college. Each of these decisions are a critical part of the procedure for choosing a phlebotomy program or school. But they are not the only concerns when arriving at your decision. Following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the colleges you are reviewing before making your ultimate decision.
Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to Alabama? As mentioned previously, each state has its own regulations for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Several states require certification, while a few others require licensing. Every state has its own requirement regarding the minimum amount of clinical training completed prior to practicing as a phlebotomy tech. As a result, you might have to pass a State Board, licensing or certification examination. Therefore it's extremely important to choose a phlebotomist program that meets the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing and readies you for any examinations you may be required to take.
Is the School Accredited? The phlebotomist program and school you enroll in should be accredited by a respected regional or national accrediting agency, for example the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are a number of advantages to graduating from an accredited school aside from a guarantee of a quality education. First, if your program has not received accreditation, you will not qualify to take a certification exam administered by any of the previously listed certifying organizations. Also, accreditation will help in getting loans or financial assistance, which are typically unavailable for non-accredited schools. Finally, graduating from an accredited college can make you more desirable to potential employers in the Birmingham AL job market.
What is the College's Ranking? In many 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 check the reputations of all schools you are considering. You can start by asking the schools for references from employers where they place their students as part of their job placement program. You can screen internet school rating and review services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. You can even talk to several Birmingham AL hospitals or clinics that you may have an interest in working for and find out if they can offer any insights. As a final thought, you can contact the Alabama school licensing authority and find out if any complaints have been submitted or if the colleges are in total compliance.
Is Plenty of 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 amount of training, both clinical and classroom. At a minimum, any phlebotomist program that you are reviewing should provide no less than 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of clinical training. Anything less than these minimums might indicate that the program is not expansive enough to provide sufficient training.
Are Internship Programs Included? Ask the schools you are reviewing if they have an internship program in collaboration with local healthcare facilities. They are the ideal means to get hands-on clinical training often not obtainable on campus. As an additional benefit, internships can help students develop relationships within the local Birmingham AL healthcare community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding your first phlebotomist job will be much easier with the support of a job placement program. Find out if the colleges you are considering offer assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a college has a higher rate, meaning they place the majority of their students in jobs, it's an indication that the college has both a good reputation together with a large network of professional contacts within the Birmingham AL healthcare community.
Are Classes Offered to Fit Your Schedule? And last, it's critical to confirm that the ultimate school you select offers classes at times that will accommodate your active schedule. This is particularly true if you opt to still work while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Birmingham AL, check that they are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure it is an option as well. And if you have decided to attend online, with the clinical training requirement, make certain those hours can also be fulfilled within your schedule. And ask what the make-up procedure is in case you have to miss any classes as a result of emergencies or illness.
Pick the Right Phlebotomist Training near Birmingham Alabama
Making sure that you enroll in the ideal phlebotomist training is an important first step toward your success in this gratifying healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that contribute toward the selection of a superior program. Phlebotomist training programs are offered in a wide range of academic institutes, such as community or junior colleges, trade schools, and colleges and universities that offer a wide array of courses in healthcare and medical sciences. Program offerings may vary somewhat from state to state as each state has its own requirements when it pertains to phlebotomy training, certification and licensing. The most important point is that you need to diligently screen and compare each program before making your final selection. By addressing the questions that we have presented, you will be able to narrow down your choices so that you can select the ideal phlebotomist program for you. And with the proper training, you can reach your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Birmingham AL.