How to Find the Right Phlebotomist School near Decatur AL
Choosing the right phlebotomy school near Decatur AL is an important initial step toward a fulfilling profession as a phlebotomist. It might seem like a difficult undertaking to analyze and compare each of the training alternatives that are accessible to you. However it's vital that you complete your due diligence to make certain that you get a quality education. In reality, many students begin the process by looking at two of the qualifiers that initially come to mind, which are cost and location. Yet another factor you might look into is whether to attend classes online or commute to a local campus. We'll talk a bit more about online schools later in this article. What you need to remember is that there is much more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than finding the closest or the cheapest one. Other factors including reputation and accreditation are also important considerations and need to be part of your decision process as well. Toward that end, we will furnish a list of questions that you should ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are reviewing to help you choose the best one for you. But before we do that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and then resume our conversation about online classes.
Request Free information on Phlebotomy Training in Your Area
Phlebotomy Technician Career Description
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, draws blood from patients. While that is their primary duty, there is actually so much more to their job description. Prior to drawing a blood sample, a phlebotomist must verify that the tools being employed are single use only and sterile. After collection, the sample must be accurately labeled with the patient's information. Afterward, paperwork needs to be correctly filled out in order to track the sample from the point of collection through the lab screening process. The phlebotomist then transports the blood to either an an outside lab facility or an in-house lab where it may be screened for such things as pregnancy, infectious diseases or blood type. Many phlebotomists in fact work in Decatur AL labs and are responsible for making sure that samples are analyzed correctly using the highest quality control procedures. And if those weren't sufficient duties, they can be asked to train other phlebotomists in the collection, transport and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomists Practice?
The simplest response is wherever patients are treated. Their work environments are numerous and varied, such as Decatur AL medical clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, or blood centers. They may be tasked to collect blood samples from patients of all ages, from babies or toddlers to seniors. A number of phlebotomists, based on their training and their practice, specialize in drawing blood from a certain kind of patient. For instance, those working in an assisted living facility or nursing home would only be collecting blood from elderly patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from newborns and mothers solely. On the other hand, phlebotomists working in a general hospital setting would be collecting blood from a wide variety of patients and would work with new patients each day.
Phlebotomy Technician Training, Licensing and Certification
There are basically 2 kinds of programs that offer phlebotomy training, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program normally takes under a year to finish and offers a general education along with the training on how to draw blood. It provides the quickest method to becoming a phlebotomy tech. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, even though it's not exclusively a phlebotomy degree, will provide training on becoming a phlebotomist. Offered at junior and community colleges, they usually take two years to complete. Bachelor's Degrees are not as accessible and as a four year program offer a more expansive foundation in lab sciences. After you have finished your training, you will no doubt want to get certified. While not mandated in the majority of states, most Decatur AL employers look for certification before employing technicians. A few of the key 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, like Nevada and California. California and a few other states even require licensing. So it's imperative that you enroll in a phlebotomist training program that not only offers a superior education, but also prepares you for any licensing or certification examinations that you elect or are required to take.
Online Phlebotomy Training
First, let's dispel one potential misconception. You can't obtain all of your phlebotomy training online. A substantial component of the program of studies will be clinical training and it will be performed either in an approved healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. Numerous courses also require completing an internship prior to graduation. However since the non-practical part of the training may be attended online, it may be a more practical alternative for many Decatur AL students. As an additional benefit, a number of online colleges are less expensive than their on-campus counterparts. And some expenditures, for instance those for textbooks or commuting, may be lessened as well. Just make certain that the online phlebotomist 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 quality education with this approach to learning. If you are disciplined enough to study at home, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Should You Become a Plebotomist?First of all, few people probably know what a phlebotomist or phlebotomy technician is. As we have previously discussed, the basic definition is a medical professional who draws blood from patients. So of course anyone who selects this profession must be comfortable with blood and needles. And if you are anxious in hospitals or other Decatur AL medical facilities, well this job probably is not right for you. And then there are the patients. Phlebotomists tend to work with anxious people who hate needles or having their blood taken. And because most health care facilities are open around the clock, you will probably be expected to work weekends, evenings and even on holidays. But if you can handle the hours and the needles and blood, and if you enjoy helping people and are patient and compassionate, this may be the perfect job for you.
What to Ask Phlebotomist Programs
Since you now have a general idea about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomist, it's time to start your due diligence process. You might have already picked the type of program you intend to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the campus is relevant if you will be commuting from Decatur AL in addition to the tuition expense. Possibly you have opted to enroll in an accredited online phlebotomy college. Each of these decisions are an important part of the process for selecting a phlebotomy program or school. 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 programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Phlebotomist Program Specific to Alabama? As earlier discussed, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomist. Several states require certification, while a few others require licensing. Each has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum hours of practical training performed prior to practicing as a phlebotomy tech. Consequently, you might have to pass a State Board, licensing or certification examination. Therefore it's extremely important to enroll in a phlebotomist program that satisfies the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working and readies you for any examinations you may have to take.
Is the School Accredited? The phlebotomist program and school you choose should be accredited by a respected national or regional 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 a guarantee of a premium education. First, if your program has not received accreditation, you will not qualify to sit for a certification exam offered by any of the earlier listed certifying agencies. Also, accreditation will help in obtaining loans or financial assistance, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Last, graduating from an accredited college can make you more attractive to prospective employers in the Decatur AL job market.
What is the College's Reputation? In numerous states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomist colleges, so there are those that are not of the highest quality. So in addition to accreditation, it's essential to investigate the reputations of any colleges you are reviewing. You can start by asking the schools for references from employers where they refer their students as part of their job placement program. You can research online school rating and review services and solicit the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. You can even contact some Decatur AL hospitals or clinics that you may have an interest in working for and see if they can offer any insights. As a closing thought, you can contact the Alabama school licensing authority and ask if any grievances have been filed or if the colleges are in total compliance.
Is Ample Training Included? First, check with the state regulator where you will be working to learn if there are any minimum requirements for the amount of training, both classroom and practical. At a minimum, any phlebotomist program that you are looking at 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 expansive enough to furnish sufficient training.
Are Internships Provided? Ask the schools you are reviewing if they have an internship program in collaboration with regional health care facilities. They are the optimal way to receive hands-on clinical training often not available on campus. As an added benefit, internships can assist students establish relationships within the local Decatur AL healthcare community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Finding your first phlebotomy position will be much easier with the support of a job placement program. Inquire if the schools you are looking at offer assistance and what their job placement percentage is. If a school has a higher rate, meaning they place most of their students in jobs, it's an indication that the program has both a good reputation along with a large network of professional contacts within the Decatur AL health care community.
Are Classes Available as Needed? Finally, it's crucial to make sure that the final school you select offers classes at times that are compatible with your hectic schedule. This is especially true if you decide to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, make certain they are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend part-time, make sure it is an option also. And if you have decided to attend online, with the clinical training requirement, make sure those hours can also be completed within your schedule. And ask what the make-up policy is in case you have to miss any classes as a result of emergencies or illness.
Pick the Best Phlebotomist Training Program near Decatur Alabama
Making certain that you select the most suitable phlebotomy training is a critical first step toward your success in this gratifying health care field. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that contribute toward the selection of a premium college. Phlebotomy certificate or degree programs are found in a number of educational 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 options may vary slightly from state to state as each state has its own prerequisites when it comes to phlebotomy training, certification and licensing. The most critical point is that you need to thoroughly research and compare each school prior to making your final decision. By asking the questions that we have presented, you will be able to narrow down your choices so that you can select the ideal phlebotomist college for you. And with the appropriate training, you can accomplish your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Decatur AL.