How to Pick the Right Phlebotomy School near Anchorage AK
Picking the ideal phlebotomist training near Anchorage AK is an essential initial step toward a gratifying career as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a challenging task to evaluate and compare all of the training alternatives that are accessible to you. Nevertheless it's necessary that you perform your due diligence to make certain that you receive a superior education. In fact, most potential students start their search by looking at two of the qualifiers that initially come to mind, which are location and cost. An additional factor you might look into is whether to attend online classes or commute to an area campus. We'll talk a bit more about online classes later in this article. What you need to remember is that there is a lot more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than finding the cheapest or the closest one. Other factors such as accreditation and reputation are also significant considerations and should be part of your decision process as well. To assist in that effort, we will supply a list of questions that you need to ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are reviewing to help you pick the best one for you. But before we do that, let's cover what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards continue our conversation about online training.
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Phlebotomist Career Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy tech, collects blood samples from patients. Although that is their primary function, there is actually so much more to their job description. Prior to collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist must confirm that the tools being employed are single use only and sterile. After collection, the sample must be properly labeled with the patient's data. Next, paperwork needs to be accurately completed to be able to track the sample from the point of collection through the lab screening procedure. 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 pregnancy, infectious diseases or blood type. A number of phlebotomists actually work in Anchorage AK labs and are accountable for making sure that samples are analyzed properly under the highest quality assurance procedures. And if those weren't sufficient responsibilities, they may be called upon 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 work places are many and diverse, including Anchorage AK medical clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, or blood banks. They can 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 collecting blood from a specific kind of patient. For example, those working in an assisted living facility or nursing home would only be drawing blood from elderly patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be collecting blood from mothers and newborns solely. On the other hand, phlebotomists practicing in a general hospital setting would be collecting blood from a wide range of patients and would collect samples from different patients on a daily basis.
Phlebotomy Training, Certification and Licensing
There are basically two types of programs that provide phlebotomist training, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program generally takes less than a year to finish and provides a general education together with the training on how to draw blood. It provides the fastest means to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, even though it's not specifically a phlebotomist degree, will provide training to become a phlebotomist. Available at junior and community colleges, they usually take two years to complete. Bachelor's Degrees are less available and as a 4 year program offer a more extensive background in lab sciences. When you have completed your training, you will probably want to become certified. Although not mandated in the majority of states, most Anchorage AK employers look for certification before hiring technicians. A few of the primary 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 require certification in order to practice as a phlebotomy tech, such as Nevada and California. California and a handful of other states even require licensing. So it's important that you select a phlebotomy training program that not only supplies a quality education, but also readies you for any certification or licensing exams that you are required or elect to take.
Online Phlebotomy Colleges
To begin with, let's dispel one potential misconception. You can't get all of your phlebotomist training online. A substantial portion of the curriculum will be practical 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. But since the non-practical portion of the training can be accessed online, it might be a more convenient alternative for some Anchorage AK students. As an additional benefit, a number of online classes are more affordable than their traditional counterparts. And some expenditures, such as those for commuting or textbooks, may be minimized as well. Just make certain that the online phlebotomist program you select is accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). With both the comprehensive online and clinical training, you can receive a superior education with this approach to learning. If you are disciplined enough to learn at home, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Should You Choose a Career as a Plebotomist?Right out of the gate, not many people are likely to know what a phlebotomy tech or phlebotomist is. As we have already discussed, the basic definition is a medical professional who draws blood from patients. So of course anyone who selects this profession must be able to handle needles and blood. And if you are not comfortable in hospitals or other Anchorage AK medical facilities, well this profession may not be the best choice for you. And now let’s talk about the patients. Phlebotomists routinely work with anxious people who hate needles or having a blood sample drawn. And because many medical facilities are open around the clock, you may be expected to work weekends, evenings and, you guessed it 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 could be the right job for you.
Questions 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 decided on the kind of program you intend to enroll in, whether it be for a certificate or a degree. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the campus is important if you will be commuting from Anchorage AK in addition to the tuition expense. Perhaps you have opted to enroll in an accredited online phlebotomist program. All of these decisions are an important component of the process for selecting a phlebotomy school or program. But they are not the only considerations when making your decision. Below we have provided several questions that you should ask about each of the colleges you are reviewing prior to making your final selection.
Is the Phlebotomist Program Specific to Alaska? As previously mentioned, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Some states require certification, while a few others require licensing. Every state has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum hours of clinical training performed prior to working as a phlebotomist. Consequently, you might need to pass a State Board, certification or licensing examination. Therefore it's very important to select a phlebotomist program that fulfills the state specific requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working and preps you for any exams you may have to take.
Is the College Accredited? The phlebotomist school and program you select should be accredited by a respected national or regional accrediting agency, such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are many advantages to graduating from an accredited program in addition to an assurance of a quality education. First, if your program has not received accreditation, you will not qualify to take a certification exam administered by any of the previously listed certifying agencies. Also, accreditation will help in securing financial aid or loans, which are typically unavailable for non-accredited programs. Last, graduating from an accredited school can make you more desirable to prospective employers in the Anchorage AK job market.
What is the Program's Ranking? In many states there is little or no regulation of phlebotomy schools, so there are some that are not of the highest caliber. So in addition to accreditation, it's essential to check out the reputations of all schools you are looking at. You can begin by requesting references from the schools 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 Anchorage AK clinics or hospitals that you might be interested in working for and see if they can provide any recommendations. As a final thought, you can contact the Alaska school licensing authority and find out if any complaints have been filed or if the schools are in total compliance.
Is Ample Training Included? To begin with, check with the state regulator where you will be practicing to find out if there are any minimum requirements for the length of training, both classroom and practical. At a minimum, any phlebotomist program that you are looking at should provide at least 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of practical training. Anything less than these minimums might indicate that the program is not comprehensive enough to offer adequate training.
Are Internships Included? Ask the schools you are considering if they have an internship program in partnership with local healthcare facilities. They are the ideal way to get hands-on clinical training frequently not provided on campus. As an additional benefit, internships can assist students develop contacts within the local Anchorage AK health care community. And they are a plus on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Available? Finding your first phlebotomist job will be a lot easier with the help of a job placement program. Inquire if the programs you are looking at provide assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a school has a higher rate, meaning they place most of their students in jobs, it's an indication that the college has both a good reputation along with a large network of professional contacts within the Anchorage AK medical community.
Are Classes Offered to Fit Your Schedule? Finally, it's important to confirm that the final school you choose provides classes at times that will accommodate your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, make certain they are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend part-time, confirm it is an option as well. And if you have decided to attend online, with the clinical training requirement, make sure those hours can also be fulfilled within your schedule. And ask what the make-up policy is in case you need to miss any classes due to illness or emergencies.
Pick the Right Phlebotomist Training Program near Anchorage Alaska
Making certain that you pick the right phlebotomy training is an essential first step toward your success in this fulfilling health care field. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that contribute toward the selection of a superior program. Phlebotomy certificate or degree programs are offered in a number of educational institutes, including community or junior colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that offer an extensive assortment of courses in medical care and health sciences. Training program offerings may differ a bit from state to state as every state has its own requirements when it pertains to phlebotomy training, licensing and certification. The most critical point is that you need to carefully evaluate and compare each college prior to making your final choice. By asking the questions that we have furnished, you will be able to fine tune your choices so that you can pick the right phlebotomist program for you. And with the proper training, you can accomplish your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Anchorage AK.