How to Select the Best Phlebotomy Tech Training Program near Vestavia Hills AL
Selecting the right phlebotomy technician school near Vestavia Hills AL is an important first step toward a gratifying profession as a phlebotomist. It might seem like a difficult undertaking to analyze and compare all of the school alternatives that are available to you. However it's important that you do your due diligence to make sure that you obtain a superior education. In reality, many prospective students start the process by considering two of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are location and cost. Another factor you may 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's important to remember is that there is a lot more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than locating the cheapest or the closest one. Other factors such as accreditation and reputation are also important considerations and must be part of your selection process as well. To assist in that effort, we will provide a list of questions that you need to ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are reviewing to help you choose the best one for you. But prior to doing that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and then resume our conversation about online classes.
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Phlebotomy Tech Career 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 collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist must check that the instruments being used are sterile and single use only. After collection, the sample has to be accurately labeled with the patient's data. Next, paperwork needs to be correctly filled out to be able to track the sample from the time of collection through the lab testing procedure. The phlebotomist then transports the blood to either an an outside lab facility or an in-house lab where it may be tested for such things as infectious diseases, pregnancy or blood type. Many phlebotomists in fact work in Vestavia Hills AL labs and are in charge of making certain that samples are analyzed correctly using the highest quality control procedures. And if those weren't sufficient responsibilities, they may be called upon to train other phlebotomists in the drawing, delivery and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomists Work?
The simplest answer is wherever they treat patients. Their work environments are numerous and varied, including Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, or blood banks. They can be tasked to draw blood samples from patients of all ages, from infants or toddlers to senior citizens. A number of phlebotomy techs, depending on their training and their practice, specialize in collecting blood from a particular kind of patient. For instance, those practicing in a nursing home or assisted living facility would solely be drawing blood from elderly patients. If they are practicing in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from mothers and newborns solely. In contrast, phlebotomists working in a general hospital environment would be collecting blood from a wide range of patients and would work with different patients each day.
Phlebotomist Education, Licensing and Certification
There are essentially two kinds of programs that provide phlebotomist training, which are degree and certificate programs. The certificate program normally takes less than a year to finish and offers a general 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 exclusively a phlebotomist degree, will include training on becoming a phlebotomist. Offered at junior and community colleges, they typically require two years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are less available and as a four year program offer a more extensive background in lab sciences. Once you have finished your training, you will no doubt want to be certified. While not mandated in the majority of states, most Vestavia Hills AL employers look for certification before employing technicians. Some 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 some states that do call for certification in order to practice as a phlebotomy tech, such as Nevada and California. California and a few additional states even require licensing. So it's important that you pick a phlebotomist training program that not only provides a premium education, but also prepares you for any licensing or certification examinations that you elect or are required to take.
Online Phlebotomy Certificates and Degrees
First, let's dispel one likely misconception. You can't obtain all of your phlebotomist training online. A substantial portion of the curriculum will be practical training and it will be carried out either in an on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. A large number of courses also require completing an internship prior to graduation. But since the non-clinical portion of the training can be attended online, it could be a more convenient option for some Vestavia Hills AL students. As an added benefit, a number of online schools are less expensive than their on-campus counterparts. And some expenses, such as those for commuting or textbooks, may be reduced also. Just make sure that the online phlebotomist program you select is accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency (more on accreditation to follow). With both the extensive online and clinical training, you can receive a superior education with this means of learning. If you are dedicated enough to study at home, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Should You Become 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 answer is a medical professional whose job is to draw blood. So naturally anyone who chooses this profession must be able to handle blood and needles. And if you are anxious in hospitals or other Vestavia Hills AL medical facilities, well this job may not be the best choice for you. And then there are the patients. Phlebotomy Technicians often work with anxious people who don’t like needles or having a blood sample taken. And because many medical facilities are open 24 hours, you will probably be expected to work weekends, evenings and, you guessed it even on holidays. But if you don’t mind working with the blood and needles, and if you enjoy helping people and are patient and compassionate, this may be the perfect profession for you.
Questions to Ask Phlebotomist Schools
Now that you have a general understanding about what it takes to become a phlebotomist, it's time to start your due diligence process. You might have already decided on the kind of program you want to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the school is relevant if you will be commuting from Vestavia Hills AL as well as the cost of tuition. Maybe you have decided to enroll in an accredited phlebotomist online school. All of these decisions are an important part of the process for picking a phlebotomy program or school. But they are not the only considerations when making your decision. Below we have provided a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection.
Is the Phlebotomist Program Specific to Your State? As earlier discussed, each state has its own regulations for practicing as a phlebotomist. Some states call for certification, while a few others require licensing. Every state has its own requirement regarding the minimum hours of clinical training performed prior to working as a phlebotomist. Consequently, you may have to pass a State Board, licensing or certification exam. Therefore it's very important to select a phlebotomy program that complies with the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working and prepares you for all examinations you may have to take.
Is the College Accredited? The phlebotomy program and school you select should be accredited by a reputable national or regional accrediting agency, such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are many benefits to graduating from an accredited school in addition to a guarantee of a superior education. To begin with, if your program has not received accreditation, you will not be able to take a certification examination administered by any of the previously listed certifying organizations. Next, accreditation will help in securing loans or financial assistance, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Last, graduating from an accredited school can make you more desirable to potential employers in the Vestavia Hills AL job market.
What is the College's Reputation? In numerous states there is little or no regulation of phlebotomy colleges, so there are those that are not of the highest caliber. So along with accreditation, it's important to investigate the reputations of any colleges you are reviewing. You can start by requesting references from the schools from employers where they place their graduates as part of their job placement program. You can screen online school reviews and rating services and solicit the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. You can also talk to a few Vestavia Hills AL hospitals or clinics that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations. 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 Sufficient Training Included? First, 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. As a minimum, any phlebotomist program that you are reviewing should provide at least 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 comprehensive enough to furnish adequate training.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out from the programs you are considering if they have an internship program in partnership with area health care facilities. They are the ideal way to get hands-on practical training typically not provided on campus. As an added benefit, internships can assist students establish contacts within the local Vestavia Hills AL healthcare community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Available? Finding your first phlebotomist position will be a lot easier with the support of a job placement program. Inquire if the programs you are considering provide assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a college has a high rate, signifying they place most of their students in positions, it's an indication that the school has both a good reputation as well as a large network of professional contacts within the Vestavia Hills AL medical community.
Are Classes Offered to Fit Your Schedule? And last, it's critical to make sure that the ultimate school you choose provides classes at times that will accommodate your active lifestyle. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, check that they are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure 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 completed within your schedule. And ask what the make-up procedure is in case you need to miss any classes due to emergencies or illness.
Enroll in the Right Phlebotomist Training near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Making sure that you choose the ideal phlebotomist training is an important first step toward your success in this rewarding healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that contribute toward the selection of a superior school. Phlebotomy certificate or degree programs are available in a wide range of academic institutions, including community or junior colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that offer a comprehensive assortment of courses in medical care and health sciences. Course offerings may differ somewhat across the country as every state has its own criteria when it pertains to phlebotomy training, certification and licensing. The most critical point is that you need to diligently evaluate and compare each college before making your ultimate choice. By asking the questions that we have furnished, you will be able to fine tune your choices so that you can select the ideal phlebotomy program for you. And with the appropriate training, you can reach your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Vestavia Hills AL.