How to Pick the Best Phlebotomy Technician Training Program near Tuscaloosa AL
Picking the ideal phlebotomy school near Tuscaloosa AL is an important first step toward a rewarding career as a phlebotomist. It might seem like a challenging undertaking to assess and compare all of the school options that are accessible to you. However it's necessary that you perform your due diligence to make sure that you receive a quality education. In fact, many students start the process by looking at 2 of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are location and cost. An additional factor you may consider 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 much more to checking out phlebotomy training programs than locating the cheapest or the closest one. Other variables such as accreditation and reputation are also significant considerations and need to be part of your selection process too. Toward that end, we will provide a list of questions that you need to ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are assessing to help you choose the ideal 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.
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Phlebotomist Job Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, draws blood from patients. Although that is their main responsibility, there is in fact much more to their job description. Prior to drawing a blood sample, a phlebotomist must check that the tools being used are single use only and sterile. Following the collection, the sample must be correctly labeled with the patient's data. Next, paperwork has to be correctly completed to be able to track the sample from the time of collection through the laboratory testing process. The phlebotomist then delivers the blood to either an in-house lab or to an outside lab facility where it can be tested for such things as infectious diseases, pregnancy or blood type. Some phlebotomists actually work in Tuscaloosa AL laboratories and are in charge of making sure that samples are tested properly utilizing the strictest quality assurance procedures. And if those weren't sufficient duties, they might be called upon to train other phlebotomists in the collection, delivery and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomists Work?
The easiest answer is wherever patients are treated. Their work places are many and varied, including Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, or blood banks. They may be assigned to collect blood samples from patients of of every age, from infants or young children to senior citizens. Some phlebotomy techs, based on their training and their practice, specialize in collecting samples from a specific type of patient. For example, those working in an assisted living facility or nursing home would exclusively be drawing blood from elderly patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from mothers and newborns solely. On the other hand, phlebotomy technicians working in a general hospital environment would be drawing blood from a wide range of patients and would work with different patients each day.
Phlebotomy Training, Licensing and Certification
There are basically 2 types of programs that furnish phlebotomist training, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program generally takes under a year to complete and provides a basic education together with the training on how to draw blood. It provides the fastest method to becoming a phlebotomy tech. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, although not specifically a phlebotomist degree, will incorporate training on becoming a phlebotomist. Offered at community and junior colleges, they normally require two years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are less available and as a four year program offer a more expansive foundation in lab sciences. After you have completed your training, you will probably want to become certified. While not mandated in most states, most Tuscaloosa AL employers require certification prior to employing 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 several states that do call for certification prior to practicing as a phlebotomy tech, such as California and Nevada. California and a few other states even require licensing. So it's important that you choose a phlebotomy training program that not only provides a superior education, but also readies you for any licensing or certification examinations that you are required or elect to take.
Online Phlebotomist Colleges
First, let's dispel one possible mistaken belief. You can't get all of your phlebotomist training online. A good portion of the course of study will be clinical training and it will be conducted either in an approved healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. Many courses also require completion of an internship prior to graduation. However since the non-practical portion of the training can be attended online, it can be a more convenient alternative for many Tuscaloosa AL students. As an added benefit, many online classes are more affordable than their on-campus competitors. And some expenses, including those for textbooks or commuting, may be lowered also. Just make certain that the online phlebotomy college you enroll in is accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). With both the comprehensive clinical and online training, you can receive a quality education with this means of learning. If you are dedicated enough to learn at home, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Should You Choose a Career as a Phlebotomy Tech?First of all, not many people probably know what a phlebotomist or phlebotomy technician is. As we have already discussed, the basic definition is a health care professional who draws blood from patients. So of course anyone who chooses this profession must be comfortable with needles and blood. And if you are anxious in hospitals or other Tuscaloosa AL medical facilities, well this profession probably is not right for you. And now let’s talk about the patients. Phlebotomy Technicians often work with nervous people who hate needles or having their blood taken. And because many medical facilities are open around the clock, you will probably be expected to work weekends, nights and, you guessed it even on holidays. But if you can handle the hours and the blood and needles, and if you enjoy helping people and are compassionate and very patient, this could be the right profession for you.
Subjects to Ask Phlebotomy Programs
Now that you 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 wish to enroll in, whether it be for a certificate or a degree. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the campus is relevant if you will be commuting from Tuscaloosa AL as well as the cost of tuition. Perhaps you have opted to enroll in an accredited phlebotomist online college. All of these decisions are an important part of the process for choosing a phlebotomy program or school. But they are not the only considerations when making your decision. Below we have provided some questions that you need to ask about each of the colleges you are reviewing before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to Your State? As mentioned previously, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Some states require certification, while a few others mandate licensing. Each has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum hours of practical training completed prior to working as a phlebotomist. Consequently, you may need to pass a State Board, licensing or certification examination. Therefore it's extremely important to choose a phlebotomy program that complies with the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working and prepares you for any exams you may have to take.
Is the College Accredited? The phlebotomist school and program you enroll in should be accredited by a reputable regional or national accrediting organization, such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are several benefits to graduating from an accredited school aside from an assurance of a premium education. First, if your program has not received accreditation, you will not qualify to sit for a certification exam administered by any of the earlier listed certifying organizations. Also, accreditation will help in securing loans or financial assistance, which are often unavailable for non-accredited colleges. Last, graduating from an accredited college can make you more attractive to future employers in the Tuscaloosa AL job market.
What is the School's Reputation? In many states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomy colleges, so there are some that are not of the highest quality. So in addition to accreditation, it's essential to investigate the reputations of any schools you are reviewing. You can start by requesting references from the schools from employers where they refer their students as part of their job placement program. You can screen internet school reviews and rating services and solicit the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. You can also contact several Tuscaloosa AL clinics or hospitals that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide 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 colleges are in full compliance.
Is Adequate 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 length of training, both classroom and practical. As a minimum, any phlebotomy program that you are considering should provide no less than 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of practical training. Anything less than these minimums may indicate that the program is not comprehensive enough to offer sufficient training.
Are Internship Programs Included? Find out from the schools you are reviewing if they have an internship program in partnership with area medical facilities. They are the ideal means to obtain hands-on clinical training typically not obtainable on campus. As an added benefit, internships can assist students develop contacts within the local Tuscaloosa AL medical community. And they are a plus on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting your first phlebotomy job will be much easier with the support of a job placement program. Inquire if the programs you are looking at provide assistance and what their job placement percentage is. If a college has a high rate, signifying they place the majority 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 Tuscaloosa AL medical community.
Are Class Times Available as Needed? Finally, it's critical to make sure that the final program you choose offers classes at times that are compatible with your hectic schedule. This is particularly true if you choose to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, make certain they are available at those times. Additionally, 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 practical training requirement, make sure those hours can also be fulfilled within your schedule. And find out what the make-up procedure is in case you need to miss any classes as a result of emergencies or illness.
Choose the Right Phlebotomy Training Program near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Making sure that you pick the most suitable phlebotomy training is a critical first step toward your success in this fulfilling healthcare career position. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple factors that contribute toward the selection of a superior college. Phlebotomy certificate or degree programs are found in a number of educational institutes, such as community or junior colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that provide a comprehensive range of courses in healthcare and medical sciences. Course offerings may vary somewhat from state to state as each state has its own prerequisites when it pertains to phlebotomist training, licensing and certification. The most important point is that you need to carefully evaluate and compare each college prior to making your final decision. By addressing the questions that we have provided, you will be able to narrow down your options so that you can pick the best phlebotomist program for you. And with the proper education, you can reach your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Tuscaloosa AL.