How to Select the Best Phlebotomy School near Birmingham AL
Choosing the right phlebotomist school 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 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, many students begin their search by considering 2 of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are cost and location. Another option you may consider is whether to attend classes online or commute to a local campus. We'll discuss a bit more about online classes later in this article. What you need to keep in mind is that there is much more to checking out phlebotomy training programs than finding the cheapest or the closest one. Other factors including reputation and accreditation are also significant considerations and should be part of your decision process too. To assist in that effort, we will furnish a list of questions that you need to ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are reviewing to help you choose the ideal one for you. But before we do that, let's cover what a phlebotomist is and does, and then continue our discussion about online classes.
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Phlebotomist Career Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy tech, collects blood samples from patients. Although that is their principal duty, there is actually far 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 must be correctly labeled with the patient's information. Next, paperwork must be correctly completed to be able to track the sample from the point of collection through the lab screening process. The phlebotomist then delivers the blood to either an an outside lab facility or an in-house lab where it may be tested for such things as pregnancy, infectious diseases or blood type. Some phlebotomists actually work in Birmingham AL labs and are responsible for ensuring that samples are analyzed correctly utilizing the strictest quality control procedures. And if those weren't sufficient duties, they can be required to train other phlebotomists in the drawing, delivery and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomists Work?
The quickest response is wherever there are patients. Their workplaces are numerous and diverse, including Birmingham AL hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, or blood centers. They may be charged to collect blood samples from patients of all ages, from babies or toddlers to seniors. Some phlebotomists, based on their training and their practice, specialize in collecting blood from a specific type 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 collecting blood from newborns and mothers exclusively. On the other hand, phlebotomy technicians working in a general hospital environment would be collecting samples from a wide range of patients and would collect samples from different patients on a daily basis.
Phlebotomist Education, Licensing and Certification
There are primarily 2 kinds of programs that offer phlebotomy training, which are degree and certificate programs. The certificate program typically takes under a year to complete and provides a basic education as well as the training on how to draw blood. It provides the fastest method to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, even though it's not exclusively a phlebotomy degree, will include training to become a phlebotomy tech. Available at community and junior colleges, they normally take 2 years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are less accessible and as a four year program furnish a more expansive foundation in lab sciences. Once you have finished your training, you will no doubt want to get certified. Although not required in most states, a number of Birmingham AL employers require certification before hiring technicians. A few 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 several states that do call for certification prior to practicing as a phlebotomy tech, including Nevada and California. California and a few other states even require licensing. So it's essential that you select a phlebotomist training program that not only furnishes a superior education, but also readies you for any certification or licensing exams that you are required or elect to take.
Phlebotomist Online Colleges
To start with, let's resolve one likely mistaken belief. You can't get all of your phlebotomy training online. A significant portion of the program of studies will be clinical training and it will be conducted either in an on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. Many courses also require completing an internship prior to graduation. However since the non-practical portion of the training can be accessed online, it might be a more convenient alternative for many Birmingham AL students. As an additional benefit, a number of online classes are less expensive than their on-campus competitors. And some expenses, for instance those for textbooks or commuting, may be reduced also. Just make sure that the online phlebotomy college you enroll in is accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency (more on accreditation to follow). With both the comprehensive clinical and online training, you can receive a superior education with this means of learning. If you are dedicated enough to study at home, then attaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Should You Choose a Career as a Plebotomist?First of all, few people are likely to know what a phlebotomy tech or phlebotomist is. As we have previously discussed, the basic answer is a medical professional whose job is to draw blood. So naturally anyone who decides to enter this profession must be OK around needles and blood. And if you are not comfortable in hospitals or other Birmingham AL medical facilities, well this profession probably is not right for you. And then there are the patients. Phlebotomy Techs routinely work with anxious people who hate needles or having their blood drawn. And because most health care facilities are open 24 hours, you may be expected to work weekends, nights and even on holidays. But if you can handle the hours and the needles and blood, and if you enjoy helping people and are compassionate and very patient, this may be the perfect job for you.
Subjects to Ask Phlebotomist Programs
Now that you have a basic understanding about what it takes to become a phlebotomist, it's time to start your due diligence process. You might have already selected the type of program you wish to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school is significant if you will be commuting from Birmingham AL as well as the cost of tuition. Maybe you have opted to enroll in an accredited phlebotomy online program. Each of these decisions are a critical part of the procedure for selecting a phlebotomy school or program. But they are not the sole concerns when arriving at your decision. Following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the colleges you are looking at before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Phlebotomist Program Specific to Your State? As mentioned previously, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Several states call for certification, while some others require licensing. Each has its own requirement regarding the minimum hours of practical training performed before working as a phlebotomy tech. As a result, you might have to pass a State Board, licensing or certification exam. Therefore it's extremely important to select a phlebotomy program that complies with 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 School Accredited? The phlebotomy program and school you pick should be accredited by a recognized national or regional accrediting organization, for example the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are several advantages to graduating from an accredited program in addition to an assurance of a superior education. First, if your program has not received accreditation, you will not be able to take a certification exam administered by any of the earlier listed certifying organizations. Next, accreditation will help in securing financial aid or loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Last, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited school can make you more attractive to potential employers in the Birmingham AL job market.
What is the School's Ranking? In many states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomist colleges, so there are those that are not of the highest quality. So along with accreditation, it's important to check the reputations of all colleges you are looking at. You can start by asking the schools for references from employers where they place their graduates as part of their job assistance program. You can screen internet school reviews and rating services and solicit the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. You can also contact a few Birmingham AL hospitals or clinics that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide 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 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 classroom and practical. As a minimum, any phlebotomy program that you are reviewing should provide at least 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of practical training. Anything lower than these minimums might signify that the program is not comprehensive enough to provide adequate training.
Are Internships Included? Find out from the schools you are considering if they have an internship program in partnership with regional health care facilities. They are the ideal way to obtain hands-on practical training often not provided on campus. As an added benefit, internships can help students establish relationships within the local Birmingham AL medical community. And they are a plus on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing your first phlebotomist position will be much easier with the help of a job placement program. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing provide assistance and what their job placement percentage is. If a school has a high rate, meaning they place most of their students in jobs, it's an indication that the college has both an excellent reputation as well as a substantial network of professional contacts within the Birmingham AL healthcare community.
Are Classes Conveniently Scheduled? And last, it's important to make sure that the ultimate school you select provides classes at times that are compatible with your active schedule. This is particularly true if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Birmingham AL, check that they are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify it is an option as well. And if you have decided to attend online, with the practical training requirement, make certain those hours can also be fulfilled within your schedule. And ask what the make-up policy is in case you have to miss any classes due to emergencies or illness.
Pick the Right Phlebotomy Training near Birmingham Alabama
Making certain that you enroll in the most suitable phlebotomy training is a critical first step toward your success in this rewarding medical care career position. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that contribute toward the selection of a superior school. Phlebotomist certificate or degree programs can be found in a variety of academic institutes, including community or junior colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that provide an extensive array of programs in healthcare and medical sciences. Course offerings may vary a bit from state to state as every state has its own requirements when it pertains to phlebotomist training, certification and licensing. The most critical point is that you need to carefully screen and compare each program before making your ultimate choice. By addressing the questions that we have provided, you will be able to fine tune your options so that you can pick the right phlebotomist school for you. And with the proper education, you can reach your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Birmingham AL.