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Become a Phlebotomist in Anchorage Alaska

How to Find the Right Phlebotomy Tech Training Program near Anchorage AK

Anchorage AK phlebotomist drawing blood from patientEnrolling in the ideal phlebotomy training near Anchorage AK is an important first step toward a fulfilling career as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a challenging undertaking to evaluate and compare each of the training alternatives that are available to you. However it's important that you do your due diligence to ensure that you obtain a superior education. In reality, most potential students begin their search by considering 2 of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are cost and location. Another factor you may look into is whether to attend classes online or commute to an area campus. We'll talk a bit 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 closest or the cheapest one. Other factors such as accreditation and reputation are also important considerations and should be part of your selection process also. Toward that end, we will furnish a list of questions that you need to ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are reviewing to help you select the ideal one for you. But before we do that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and then resume our discussion about online training.

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Phlebotomist Job Summary

Anchorage AK phlebotomist lab technicianA phlebotomist, or phlebotomy tech, collects blood samples from patients. While that is their principal function, there is actually far more to their job description. Prior to collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist must confirm that the tools being utilized are single use only and sterile. Following the collection, the sample needs to be correctly labeled with the patient's data. Next, paperwork must be properly filled out in order to track the sample from the point of collection through the laboratory testing 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. A number of phlebotomists in fact work in Anchorage AK laboratories and are in charge of ensuring that samples are tested correctly under the strictest quality assurance procedures. And if those weren't enough duties, they may be called upon to train other phlebotomists in the drawing, transport and follow-up process.

Where do Phlebotomy Techs Practice?

The quickest response is wherever patients are treated. Their work places are many and varied, such as Anchorage AK medical clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, or blood centers. They may be charged to collect blood samples from patients of of every age, from infants or toddlers to senior citizens. Some phlebotomy techs, based on their training and their practice, specialize in collecting blood from a certain type of patient. For example, those practicing in an assisted living facility or nursing home would exclusively be collecting blood from senior patients. If they are practicing in a maternity ward, they would be collecting blood from mothers and newborns exclusively. In contrast, phlebotomists working in a general hospital environment would be drawing blood from a wide variety of patients and would collect samples from new patients on a daily basis.

Phlebotomy Education, Licensing and Certification

blood analysis performed in Anchorage AK laboratoryThere are essentially 2 kinds of programs that provide phlebotomist training, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program normally takes under a year to finish and provides a basic 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 specifically a phlebotomist degree, will include training on becoming a phlebotomist. Offered at community and junior colleges, they usually take 2 years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are less available and as a 4 year program provide a more extensive foundation 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, many Anchorage AK employers look for certification prior to hiring technicians. Some 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 some states that do call for certification in order to practice as a phlebotomy tech, including California and Nevada. California and a few additional states even require licensing. So it's imperative that you select a phlebotomy training program that not only supplies a premium education, but also preps you for any certification or licensing examinations that you are required or elect to take.

Online Phlebotomist Schools

Anchorage Alaska woman attending phlebotomy classes onlineTo begin with, let's dispel one potential mistaken belief. You can't receive all of your phlebotomist training online. A good portion of the program of studies will be clinical training and it will be conducted either in an on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. Many courses also require completion of an internship in order to graduate. But since the non-practical part of the training can be accessed online, it can be a more convenient alternative for many Anchorage AK students. As an added benefit, a number of online programs are more affordable than their traditional counterparts. And some expenditures, including those for commuting or textbooks, may be minimized also. Just verify that the online phlebotomist school you choose is accredited by a national or regional accrediting organization (more on accreditation to follow). With both the comprehensive online and clinical training, you can receive a superior education with this means of learning. If you are disciplined enough to study at home, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.

Should You Become a Phlebotomy Tech?

First of all, few people probably know what a phlebotomist or phlebotomy technician is. As we have already discussed, the short answer is a medical professional whose job is to draw blood. So of course anyone who chooses this profession must be comfortable with needles and blood. And if you are nervous in hospitals or other Anchorage AK medical environments, well this profession probably is not the best choice for you. And then there are the patients. Phlebotomy Techs often work around anxious people who hate needles or having a blood sample taken. And because most health care facilities are open 24 hours, you may be expected to work weekends, evenings and, you guessed it even on holidays. But if you don’t mind working with the needles and blood, and if you enjoy helping people and are patient and compassionate, this may be the right profession for you.

Points to Ask Phlebotomist Programs

Questions to ask Anchorage AK phlebotomy schoolsNow that you have a basic understanding about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomy tech, it's time to initiate your due diligence process. You might have already decided on the kind 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 Anchorage AK as well as the cost of tuition. Perhaps you have opted to enroll in an accredited phlebotomy online program. Each of these decisions are an important component of the procedure for choosing a phlebotomy program or school. But they are not the only considerations when arriving at your decision. Following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the colleges you are reviewing before making your final decision.

Is the Phlebotomist Program Specific to Your State? As previously mentioned, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomist. Several states require certification, while some others mandate licensing. Each has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum amount of clinical training performed before practicing as a phlebotomist. As a result, you may have to pass a State Board, certification or licensing exam. Therefore it's very important to select a phlebotomy program that complies with the state specific requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working and prepares you for any examinations you may be required to take.

Is the Program Accredited? The phlebotomy program and school you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded regional or national accrediting agency, for example the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are several benefits to graduating from an accredited program aside from a guarantee of a quality education. First, if your program has not received accreditation, you will not qualify to sit for a certification exam administered by any of the previously listed certifying organizations. Also, accreditation will help in securing loans or financial assistance, which are typically unavailable for non-accredited colleges. 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 numerous states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomist colleges, so there are those that are not of the highest caliber. So in addition to accreditation, it's important to investigate the reputations of all colleges you are looking at. You can start by requesting references from the schools from employers where they refer their students as part of their job assistance program. You can research internet school rating and review services and solicit the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. You can even contact some Anchorage AK hospitals or clinics that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insights. As a final thought, you can contact the Alaska school licensing authority and ask if any complaints have been filed or if the schools are in total compliance.

Is Enough Training Included? To begin with, contact 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 phlebotomist program that you are reviewing should provide at least 40 hours of classroom training (most require 120) and 120 hours of clinical training. Anything less than these minimums might indicate that the program is not expansive enough to provide sufficient training.

Are Internships Sponsored? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing if they have an internship program in collaboration with area medical facilities. They are the ideal way to obtain hands-on practical training frequently not provided on campus. As an added benefit, internships can assist students establish relationships within the local Anchorage AK medical community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing your first phlebotomy job will be much easier with the assistance of a job placement program. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing offer assistance and what their job placement percentage is. If a school has a high rate, meaning they place the majority 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 Anchorage AK health care community.

Are Classes Available as Needed? Finally, it's important to make sure that the ultimate program you choose offers classes at times that will accommodate your active schedule. This is particularly important if you choose to still work while attending school. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, make sure they are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend part-time, make sure 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 completed within your schedule. And ask what the make-up procedure is in case you need to miss any classes because of illness or emergencies.

Choose the Right Phlebotomist Training near Anchorage Alaska

Making certain that you pick the right phlebotomist training is a critical first step toward your success in this gratifying healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that contribute toward the selection of a superior college. Phlebotomist certificate or degree programs can be offered in a wide range of educational institutions, including junior or community colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that provide a wide assortment of courses in medical care and health sciences. Course offerings can differ a bit from state to state as each state has its own criteria when it comes to phlebotomy training, licensing and certification. The most critical point is that you must diligently research and compare each college prior to making your final decision. By addressing the questions that we have presented, you will be able to narrow down your choices so that you can select the best phlebotomist program for you. And with the appropriate education, you can reach your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Anchorage AK.