How to Choose the Right Phlebotomist Training Program near Huntsville AL
Enrolling in the ideal phlebotomy training near Huntsville AL is a critical first step toward a fulfilling profession as a phlebotomist. It might seem like a challenging undertaking to investigate and compare each of the training options that are accessible to you. Nevertheless it's necessary that you do your due diligence to make sure that you obtain a quality education. In reality, many students start their search by looking at two of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are location and cost. Yet another factor you might look into is whether to attend classes online or commute to a nearby campus. We'll review more about online schools later in this article. What's important to keep in mind is that there is far more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than locating the closest or the cheapest one. Other variables such as reputation and accreditation are also important considerations and must be part of your selection process too. To assist in that effort, we will provide a list of questions that you need to ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are assessing to help you pick the right one for you. But prior to doing that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and then resume our conversation about online schools.
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Phlebotomy Tech Work Description
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, collects blood samples from patients. While that is their primary responsibility, there is actually far more to their job description. Before drawing a blood sample, a phlebotomist must confirm that the tools being utilized are sterile and single use only. Following the collection, the sample needs to be accurately labeled with the patient's information. Next, paperwork has to be accurately 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 in-house lab or to an outside lab facility where it may be screened for such things as infectious diseases, pregnancy or blood type. Many phlebotomists actually work in Huntsville AL laboratories and are responsible for making sure that samples are tested properly utilizing the highest quality assurance procedures. And if those weren't sufficient duties, they might be required to train other phlebotomists in the collection, transport and follow-up process.
Where are Phlebotomists Employed?
The simplest answer is wherever patients are treated. Their workplaces are numerous and varied, including Huntsville AL medical clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, or blood centers. They can be assigned to collect blood samples from patients of all ages, from infants or toddlers to senior citizens. Some phlebotomy techs, depending on their training and their practice, specialize in drawing samples from a specific type of patient. For example, those practicing in a nursing home or assisted living facility would exclusively be collecting blood from senior patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from mothers and newborns solely. On the other hand, phlebotomists practicing in a general hospital environment would be drawing samples from a wide variety of patients and would work with different patients every day.
Phlebotomy Education, Licensing and Certification
There are essentially two kinds of programs that provide phlebotomy training, which are degree and certificate programs. The certificate program normally takes under a year to finish and provides a general education along with the training on how to draw blood. It offers the fastest 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. Available at junior and community colleges, they normally require two years to complete. Bachelor's Degrees are less accessible and as a four year program offer a more comprehensive foundation in lab sciences. Once you have finished your training, you will no doubt want to become certified. Although not mandated in most states, most Huntsville AL employers look for certification before hiring technicians. Some of the principal 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, like California and Nevada. California and a handful of additional states even require licensing. So it's imperative that you choose a phlebotomy training program that not only supplies a quality education, but also preps you for any certification or licensing examinations that you elect or are required to take.
Online Phlebotomist Colleges
First, let's resolve one possible misconception. You can't obtain all of your phlebotomy training online. A substantial part of the curriculum will be clinical training and it will be performed either in an approved healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. Numerous courses also require completion of an internship prior to graduation. However since the non-clinical portion of the training can be attended online, it might be a more practical option for many Huntsville AL students. As an added benefit, many online classes are less expensive than their on-campus counterparts. And some expenses, including those for textbooks or commuting, may be minimized as well. Just make sure that the online phlebotomist college you choose is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). With both the extensive online and clinical training, you can obtain a premium education with this method of learning. If you are dedicated enough to learn at home, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Phlebotomist Programs
Now that you have a general understanding about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomist, it's time to initiate your due diligence process. You might 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 Huntsville AL as well as the tuition expense. Maybe you have opted to enroll in an accredited phlebotomist online school. Each of these decisions are a critical part of the procedure for choosing a phlebotomy school or program. 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 programs you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision.
Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to Alabama? As earlier discussed, each state has its own requirements for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. 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 phlebotomist. Consequently, you might have to pass a State Board, licensing or certification examination. Therefore it's extremely important to choose a phlebotomy program that fulfills the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing and preps you for all exams you may have to take.
Is the Program Accredited? The phlebotomist program and school you select should be accredited by a recognized national or regional accrediting agency, for example the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are many advantages to graduating from an accredited program aside from a guarantee 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 previously listed certifying organizations. Next, accreditation will help in securing financial aid or loans, which are typically unavailable for non-accredited schools. Last, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited school can make you more attractive to prospective employers in the Huntsville AL job market.
What is the School's Ranking? In many states there is little or no regulation of phlebotomy schools, so there are those that are not of the highest quality. So in addition to accreditation, it's important to check out the reputations of all colleges 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 research online school rating and review services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. You can even check with several Huntsville AL hospitals or clinics that you might have an interest in working for and see if they can provide any recommendations. As a final thought, you can contact the Alabama school licensing authority and ask if any grievances have been filed or if the schools are in full compliance.
Is Adequate Training Included? First, check with 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 considering should furnish at least 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of practical training. Anything below these minimums might indicate that the program is not comprehensive enough to provide sufficient training.
Are Internship Programs Included? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing if they have an internship program in partnership with regional healthcare facilities. They are the ideal way to get hands-on clinical training often not available on campus. As an additional benefit, internships can help students develop contacts within the local Huntsville AL medical community. And they are a plus on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Finding your first phlebotomist job will be a lot easier with the assistance of a job placement program. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at provide assistance and what their job placement percentage is. If a school has a high rate, signifying they place most of their students in jobs, it's an indication that the school has both a good reputation along with an extensive network of professional contacts within the Huntsville AL healthcare community.
Are Class Times Compatible With Your Schedule? Finally, it's important to confirm that the final program you choose provides classes at times that are compatible with your active lifestyle. 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 Huntsville AL, make sure they are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend part-time, verify it is an option as well. Even if you have decided to study online, with the clinical training requirement, make sure those hours can also be fulfilled within your schedule. And find out what the make-up protocol is in case you have to miss any classes as a result of emergencies or illness.
Pick the Right Phlebotomy Training near Huntsville Alabama
Making certain that you enroll in the most suitable phlebotomist training is an essential first step toward your success in this fulfilling health care career position. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that go into the selection of a quality program. Phlebotomist certificate or degree programs are found in a wide range of educational institutes, including community or junior colleges, trade schools, and colleges and universities that provide a comprehensive array of courses in medical care and health sciences. Program offerings can differ a bit from state to state as every state has its own criteria when it concerns phlebotomist training, certification and licensing. The most critical point is that you must carefully research and compare each school before making your ultimate selection. By asking the questions that we have provided, you will be able to narrow down your choices so that you can pick the right phlebotomist program for you. And with the appropriate training, you can reach your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Huntsville AL.