How to Enroll in the Best Phlebotomy Tech School near Fort Smith AR
Selecting the right phlebotomist school near Fort Smith AR is a critical initial step toward a fulfilling career as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a daunting undertaking to investigate and compare each of the school alternatives that are available to you. However it's vital that you do your due diligence to make sure that you obtain a superior education. In reality, most students start the process by considering 2 of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are cost and location. Yet another option you may consider 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 you need to keep in mind is that there is far more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than locating the cheapest or the closest one. Other factors including accreditation and reputation are also important considerations and should be part of your decision process also. Toward that end, we will furnish a list of questions that you should ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are assessing to help you choose the ideal one for you. But prior to doing that, let's cover what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards resume our conversation about online training.
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Phlebotomy Technician Career Description
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy tech, collects blood samples from patients. While that is their primary task, there is actually so much more to their job description. Prior to drawing a blood sample, a phlebotomist needs to check that the instruments being utilized are sterile and single use only. Following the collection, the sample needs to be accurately labeled with the patient's data. Next, paperwork needs to be properly filled out in order to track the sample from the time 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 can be screened for such things as infectious diseases, pregnancy or blood type. A number of phlebotomists in fact work in Fort Smith AR labs and are in charge of making sure that samples are tested correctly utilizing the strictest quality assurance procedures. And if those weren't enough responsibilities, they might be asked to instruct other phlebotomists in the collection, delivery and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomists Work?
The easiest response is wherever they treat patients. Their work places are many and diverse, including Fort Smith AR hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, or blood centers. They can be assigned to collect blood samples from patients of of every age, from babies or toddlers to seniors. A number of phlebotomists, based on their training and their practice, specialize in drawing blood from a specific type of patient. For instance, those practicing in a nursing home or assisted living facility would only be drawing blood from older patients. If they are practicing in a maternity ward, they would be collecting blood from newborns and mothers solely. 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 each day.
Phlebotomist Education, Licensing and Certification
There are essentially 2 kinds of programs that offer phlebotomist training, which are degree and certificate programs. The certificate program typically takes less than a year to finish and offers a basic education along with the training on how to draw blood. It offers the fastest means to becoming a phlebotomy tech. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, even though it's not exclusively a phlebotomy degree, will incorporate training to become a phlebotomy tech. Offered at junior and community colleges, they usually require 2 years to complete. Bachelor's Degrees are less accessible and as a 4 year program offer a more expansive foundation in lab sciences. When you have finished your training, you will no doubt want to be certified. While not required in most states, many Fort Smith AR employers require certification prior to employing 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 a few states that do require certification prior to practicing as a phlebotomy tech, like Nevada and California. California and a few other states even require licensing. So it's imperative that you pick a phlebotomy training program that not only furnishes a quality education, but also preps you for any licensing or certification examinations that you are required or elect to take.
Online Phlebotomist Classes
To begin with, let's resolve one possible misconception. You can't obtain all of your phlebotomist training online. A substantial component of the course of study will be practical training and it will be carried out either in an approved healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. A large number of courses also require completion of an internship prior to graduation. However since the non-practical component of the training can be accessed online, it can be a more convenient alternative for some Fort Smith AR students. As an added benefit, many online programs are more affordable than their on-campus competitors. And some expenses, for instance those for textbooks or commuting, may be lowered as well. Just make sure that the online phlebotomist college you enroll in 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 study at home, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Phlebotomy Colleges
Since you now have a basic understanding about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomist, it's time to initiate your due diligence process. You might have already chosen the type of program you want to enroll in, whether it be for a certificate or a degree. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the school is important if you will be commuting from Fort Smith AR in addition to the cost of tuition. Perhaps you have opted to enroll in an accredited online phlebotomist college. Each of these decisions are an important component of the process for selecting a phlebotomy school or program. But they are not the sole considerations when arriving at your decision. Following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the colleges you are reviewing prior to making your final selection.
Is the Phlebotomist 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 some others mandate licensing. Each has its own requirement regarding the minimum hours of clinical training performed prior to practicing as a phlebotomy tech. As a result, you might need to pass a State Board, licensing or certification exam. Therefore it's very important to choose a phlebotomist program that fulfills the state specific requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing and readies you for any examinations you may be required to take.
Is the College Accredited? The phlebotomist school and program you enroll in 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 a number of benefits to graduating from an accredited program aside from an assurance of a quality 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 agencies. Next, accreditation will help in getting loans or financial assistance, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Finally, graduating from an accredited school can make you more desirable to prospective employers in the Fort Smith AR job market.
What is the School's Ranking? In a number of states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomy colleges, so there are those that are not of the highest quality. So in addition to accreditation, it's important to check the reputations of all colleges you are considering. You can start by asking the schools for references from employers where they place their graduates as part of their job placement program. You can research internet school rating and review services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. You can also check with some Fort Smith AR hospitals or clinics that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations. As a final thought, you can check with the Arkansas school licensing authority and find out if any complaints have been submitted or if the schools are in total compliance.
Is Adequate Training Provided? First, 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 clinical and classroom. At a minimum, any phlebotomy program that you are reviewing should provide no less than 40 hours of classroom training (most require 120) and 120 hours of clinical training. Anything lower than these minimums may signify that the program is not expansive enough to provide adequate training.
Are Internships Provided? Ask the colleges you are looking at if they have an internship program in partnership with area healthcare facilities. They are the ideal means to receive hands-on practical training often not provided on campus. As an added benefit, internships can help students develop relationships within the local Fort Smith AR healthcare community. And they are a plus on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding your first phlebotomy job will be much easier with the support of a job placement program. Ask if the programs you are looking at offer assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a college has a high 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 Fort Smith AR health care community.
Are Classes Available as Needed? And last, it's critical to make sure that the final program you select provides classes at times that will accommodate your hectic lifestyle. This is especially true if you opt to still work while attending school. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fort Smith AR, make sure they are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify it is an option as well. Even if you have decided to attend online, with the clinical training requirement, make certain those hours can also be completed within your schedule. And ask what the make-up procedure is in case you have to miss any classes due to illness or emergencies.
Choose the Right Phlebotomy Training near Fort Smith Arkansas
Making certain that you pick the ideal phlebotomist training is an important first step toward your success in this rewarding healthcare career position. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that go into the selection of a superior school. Phlebotomy certificate or degree programs are available in a number of educational institutions, such as junior or community colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that provide an extensive range of programs in medical care and health sciences. Course offerings can differ a bit across the country as every state has its own mandates when it comes to phlebotomist training, licensing and certification. The most critical point is that you need to carefully screen and compare each school before making your final choice. By asking the questions that we have furnished, you will be able to narrow down your options so that you can select the best phlebotomy school for you. And with the proper education, you can realize your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Fort Smith AR.