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Become a Phlebotomist in Fort Smith Arkansas

How to Enroll in the Best Phlebotomy Technician School near Fort Smith AR

Fort Smith AR phlebotomy tech drawing blood from patientPicking the right phlebotomy training near Fort Smith AR is an important initial step toward a fulfilling career as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a difficult undertaking to investigate and compare all of the school alternatives that are available to you. Nevertheless it's necessary that you do your due diligence to ensure that you obtain a quality education. In reality, many potential students begin their search by looking at 2 of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are location and cost. An additional option you may look into is whether to attend classes online or commute to a local campus. We'll discuss more about online classes later in this article. What you need to remember is that there is much more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than finding the closest or the cheapest one. Other factors such as accreditation and reputation are also important considerations and need to be part of your selection process too. To assist in that effort, we will furnish a list of questions that you should ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are assessing to help you pick the best one for you. But prior to doing that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards resume our conversation about online schools.

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Phlebotomy Tech Career Summary

Fort Smith AR phlebotomist laboratory technicianA phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, draws blood from patients. While that is their primary duty, there is actually much more to their job description. Before drawing a blood sample, a phlebotomist needs to confirm that the tools being employed are single use only and sterile. Following the collection, the sample has to be accurately labeled with the patient's data. Next, paperwork must be accurately completed to be able to track the sample from the time of collection through the laboratory 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. A number of phlebotomists in fact work in Fort Smith AR laboratories and are responsible for ensuring that samples are tested properly under the highest quality control procedures. And if those weren't enough duties, they may be asked to train other phlebotomists in the drawing, transport and follow-up process.

Where do Phlebotomy Techs Practice?

The most basic response is wherever there are patients. Their work environments are numerous and varied, such as Fort Smith AR hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, or blood centers. They can be tasked to draw blood samples from patients of all ages, from babies or toddlers to senior citizens. A number of phlebotomists, based on their training and their practice, specialize in collecting samples from a specific type of patient. For instance, those practicing in an assisted living facility or nursing home would only be collecting blood from senior patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be collecting blood from mothers and newborns solely. On the other hand, phlebotomy technicians working in a general hospital setting would be drawing blood from a wide range of patients and would work with different patients every day.

Phlebotomy Technician Training, Certification and Licensing

blood testing done in Fort Smith AR labThere are essentially 2 kinds of programs that offer phlebotomy training, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program generally takes less than a year to complete and offers a general education together with the training on how to draw blood. It offers the quickest means to becoming a phlebotomy tech. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, although not specifically a phlebotomist degree, will incorporate training to become a phlebotomist. Available at community and junior colleges, they usually require 2 years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are not as accessible and as a four year program furnish a more extensive background in lab sciences. After you have finished your training, you will probably want to be certified. While not mandated in most states, most Fort Smith AR 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 prior to practicing as a phlebotomy tech, like Nevada and California. California and a few additional states even require licensing. So it's essential that you pick a phlebotomy training program that not only furnishes a superior education, but also prepares you for any certification or licensing examinations that you are required or elect to take.

Phlebotomy Online Schools

Fort Smith Arkansas woman attending phlebotomy training onlineTo begin with, let's resolve one possible misconception. You can't obtain all of your phlebotomy training online. A substantial portion of the program of studies will be practical training and it will be conducted 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 may be attended online, it could be a more convenient option for many Fort Smith AR students. As an added benefit, a number of online classes are more affordable than their traditional counterparts. And some costs, including those for textbooks or commuting, may be lessened also. Just make sure that the online phlebotomist school you choose is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency (more on accreditation to follow). With both the extensive online and clinical training, you can obtain a quality education with this approach to learning. If you are disciplined enough to learn at home, then attaining your degree or certificate online may be the best option for you.

Should You Choose a Career as a Phlebotomy Technician?

Right out of the gate, not many people probably know what a phlebotomy tech or phlebotomist is. As we have previously discussed, the short definition is a health care professional who draws blood from patients. So naturally anyone who decides to enter this profession must be able to handle blood and needles. And if you are not comfortable in hospitals or other Fort Smith AR medical facilities, well this profession probably is not the best choice for you. And then there are the patients. Phlebotomy Techs routinely work with anxious people who hate needles or having their blood drawn. And because most health care facilities are open 24 hours, you may be required 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 interacting with people and are compassionate and very patient, this could be the right job for you.

Subjects to Ask Phlebotomy Programs

Questions to ask Fort Smith AR phlebotomy schoolsNow that you have a general understanding about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomy tech, it's time to begin your due diligence process. You may have already decided on the kind of program you wish to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we previously mentioned, the location of the campus 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 online phlebotomist program. Each of these decisions are a critical component of the process for choosing a phlebotomy program or school. But they are not the only concerns when making your decision. Following are some questions that you should ask about each of the colleges you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Phlebotomy Program State Specific? As earlier discussed, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Some states call for certification, while a few others require licensing. Each has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum amount of practical training performed prior to working as a phlebotomy tech. Consequently, you might need to pass a State Board, certification or licensing examination. Therefore it's extremely important to enroll in a phlebotomy program that complies with the state specific requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be working and readies you for any exams you may have to take.

Is the College Accredited? The phlebotomist program and school you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded national or regional accrediting organization, for example the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are several benefits to graduating from an accredited program in addition to an assurance of a premium education. To begin with, if your program is not accredited, you will not qualify to take a certification examination administered by any of the earlier listed certifying organizations. Next, accreditation will help in securing financial aid or loans, which are typically not available for non-accredited colleges. Finally, graduating from an accredited college can make you more attractive to future employers in the Fort Smith AR job market.

What is the College's Ranking? In a number of 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 the reputations of all colleges you are looking at. You can begin by asking the schools for references from employers where they refer 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 also. You can also talk to several Fort Smith AR hospitals or clinics that you might be interested in working for and see if they can provide any recommendations. As a final thought, you can check with the Arkansas school licensing authority and ask if any grievances have been submitted or if the schools are in full compliance.

Is Enough Training Included? To begin with, 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 classroom and practical. At a minimum, any phlebotomy program that you are reviewing should furnish at least 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of clinical training. Anything below these minimums might indicate that the program is not comprehensive enough to offer sufficient training.

Are Internship Programs Included? Find out from the programs you are reviewing if they have an internship program in partnership with local healthcare facilities. They are the optimal way to obtain hands-on clinical training typically not obtainable on campus. As an added benefit, internships can assist students develop relationships within the local Fort Smith AR medical community. And they are a plus on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing your first phlebotomist position will be a lot easier with the support of a job placement program. Ask if the schools you are looking at provide assistance and what their job placement percentage is. If a college has a higher rate, signifying they place the majority of their students in jobs, it's an indication that the program has both a good reputation along with a substantial network of professional contacts within the Fort Smith AR medical community.

Are Class Times Available as Needed? Finally, it's critical to verify that the final program you select provides classes at times that will accommodate your active schedule. This is particularly true if you opt to continue working while going to college. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Fort Smith AR, make sure they are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend part-time, verify it is an option also. Even if you have decided to attend online, with the practical training requirement, make sure those hours can also be fulfilled within your schedule. And ask what the make-up procedure is should you have to miss any classes due to emergencies or illness.

Choose the Best Phlebotomist Training Program near Fort Smith Arkansas

Making sure that you select the most suitable phlebotomist training is an essential first step toward your success in this rewarding medical care field. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that go into the selection of a premium college. Phlebotomist certificate or degree programs can be available in a number of academic institutions, including junior or community colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that provide a comprehensive range of courses in medical care and health sciences. Course offerings may vary somewhat across the country as each state has its own prerequisites when it comes to phlebotomist training, licensing and certification. The most important point is that you need to thoroughly screen and compare each program before making your ultimate choice. By addressing the questions that we have provided, you will be able to narrow down your choices so that you can pick the right phlebotomy college for you. And with the appropriate training, you can reach your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Fort Smith AR.