How to Choose the Best Phlebotomist Training Program near Fort Smith AR
Selecting the right phlebotomy school near Fort Smith AR is an important first step toward a rewarding profession as a phlebotomist. It might seem like a challenging task to evaluate and compare all of the school options that are available to you. Nevertheless it's important that you do your due diligence to make certain that you get a quality education. In fact, many prospective students begin their search by looking at two of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are cost and location. Yet another factor you may look into is whether to attend classes online or commute to a local campus. We'll discuss more about online schools later in this article. What's important to keep in mind is that there is a lot more to checking out phlebotomy training programs than locating the closest or the cheapest one. Other factors including reputation and accreditation 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 should ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are assessing to help you pick the ideal one for you. But before we do that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards continue our discussion about online classes.
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Phlebotomist Career Description
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy tech, collects blood samples from patients. Although that is their principal duty, there is actually much more to their job description. Before collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist needs to check that the tools being used are single use only and sterile. Following the collection, the sample needs to be correctly labeled with the patient's information. Afterward, paperwork needs to be correctly filled out in order to track the sample from the time of collection through the laboratory testing process. The phlebotomist then delivers the blood to either an an outside lab facility or an in-house lab where it can be tested for such things as infectious diseases, pregnancy or blood type. A number of phlebotomists actually work in Fort Smith AR labs and are in charge of making sure that samples are tested correctly under the highest quality control procedures. And if those weren't sufficient responsibilities, they may be required to train other phlebotomists in the collection, transport and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomy Techs Practice?
The easiest response is wherever they treat patients. Their work places are numerous and diverse, including Fort Smith AR hospitals, medical clinics, long-term care facilities, or blood banks. They may be tasked to draw blood samples from patients of all ages, from babies or toddlers to senior citizens. Some phlebotomists, based on their practice and their training, specialize in collecting blood from a certain kind of patient. For instance, those working in a nursing home or assisted living facility would only be collecting blood from elderly patients. If they are practicing in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from mothers and newborns exclusively. In contrast, phlebotomy technicians working in a general hospital environment would be drawing samples from a wide range of patients and would collect samples from different patients each day.
Phlebotomy Education, Licensing and Certification
There are basically two types of programs that provide phlebotomist training, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program usually takes under a year to complete and furnishes a general education as well as 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 phlebotomy degree, will provide training on becoming a phlebotomy tech. Offered at junior and community colleges, they normally take two years to complete. Bachelor's Degrees are not as accessible and as a four year program provide a more comprehensive foundation in lab sciences. Once you have finished your training, you will probably want to be certified. Although not mandated in most states, most Fort Smith AR employers look for certification before 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 a few states that do call for certification in order to practice as a phlebotomy tech, including Nevada and California. California and a few additional states even require licensing. So it's important that you choose a phlebotomy training program that not only offers a quality education, but also readies you for any licensing or certification examinations that you are required or elect to take.
Phlebotomy Online Schools
To start with, let's resolve one potential misconception. You can't get all of your phlebotomy training online. A substantial part of the course of study will be practical training and it will be performed either in an on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. Numerous courses also require completion of an internship in order to graduate. But since the non-practical component of the training may be accessed online, it could be a more convenient option for many Fort Smith AR students. As an additional benefit, many online programs are more affordable than their traditional counterparts. And some expenses, for instance those for textbooks or commuting, may be minimized also. Just confirm that the online phlebotomist program you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency (more on accreditation to follow). With both the comprehensive clinical and online training, you can obtain a premium education with this approach to learning. If you are dedicated enough to learn at home, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Phlebotomist Schools
Now that you have a general idea about what it takes to become a phlebotomy tech, it's time to initiate your due diligence process. You might have already picked 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 as well as the cost of tuition. Perhaps you have opted to enroll in an accredited phlebotomist online college. Each of these decisions are an important component of the process for picking a phlebotomy school or program. But they are not the only considerations when arriving at your decision. Following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are reviewing before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to Your State? As mentioned previously, each state has its own requirements for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Several states call for certification, while some others require licensing. Every state has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum hours of practical training completed before practicing as a phlebotomist. As a result, you might have to pass a State Board, certification or licensing examination. Therefore it's very important to enroll in a phlebotomist program that complies with the state specific requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be working and prepares you for any exams you may be required to take.
Is the School Accredited? The phlebotomy program and school you choose 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 advantages to graduating from an accredited school in addition to an assurance of a premium education. First, if your program has not received accreditation, you will not be able to take a certification exam administered by any of the earlier listed certifying organizations. Also, accreditation will help in getting financial aid or loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Last, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited college can make you more desirable to prospective employers in the Fort Smith AR job market.
What is the College's Reputation? In numerous states there is little 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 check out the reputations of any schools you are reviewing. You can begin by requesting references from the schools from employers where they place their students as part of their job placement program. You can screen online school reviews and rating services and solicit the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. You can even check with a few Fort Smith AR clinics or hospitals that you may have an interest in working for and find out if they can offer any insights. As a final thought, you can contact the Arkansas school licensing authority and find out if any grievances have been submitted or if the schools are in full compliance.
Is Enough Training Included? First, contact 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 reviewing should provide at least 40 hours of classroom training (most require 120) and 120 hours of clinical training. Anything lower than these minimums may indicate that the program is not expansive enough to offer sufficient training.
Are Internships Included? Ask the programs you are looking at if they have an internship program in partnership with regional medical facilities. They are the ideal way to get hands-on practical training often not available on campus. As an additional benefit, internships can assist students develop contacts within the local Fort Smith AR medical community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding your first phlebotomy position will be a lot easier with the support of a job placement program. Inquire if the programs you are reviewing provide assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a school has a higher rate, meaning they place the majority of their students in positions, it's an indication that the school has both a good reputation together with a substantial network of professional contacts within the Fort Smith AR healthcare community.
Are Classes Compatible With Your Schedule? And last, it's crucial to verify that the final school you choose provides classes at times that will accommodate your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you decide to still work while attending college. If you can only attend 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. And if you have decided to study online, with the clinical training requirement, make sure those hours can also be fulfilled within your schedule. And find out what the make-up procedure is should you have to miss any classes because of illness or emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Phlebotomist Training near Fort Smith Arkansas
Making sure that you select the ideal phlebotomy training is a critical first step toward your success in this rewarding medical care career position. As we have covered in this article, there are multiple factors that go into the selection of a superior school. Phlebotomist training programs can be found in a variety of academic institutes, including junior or community colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that offer an extensive range of programs in medical care and health sciences. Program options may differ somewhat across the country as each state has its own criteria when it comes to phlebotomy training, licensing and certification. The most critical point is that you need to carefully screen and compare each college prior to making your final decision. By asking the questions that we have provided, you will be able to narrow down your options so that you can pick the ideal phlebotomy college for you. And with the appropriate training, you can accomplish your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Fort Smith AR.