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Become a Phlebotomist in Fort Smith Arkansas

How to Find the Best Phlebotomy School near Fort Smith AR

Fort Smith AR phlebotomist drawing bloodPicking the ideal phlebotomy school near Fort Smith AR is an important initial step toward a rewarding career as a phlebotomist. It might seem like a difficult undertaking to investigate and compare all of the training options that are accessible to you. Nevertheless it's necessary that you complete your due diligence to ensure that you receive a superior education. In reality, many potential 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 consider is whether to attend online classes or commute to a local campus. We'll review a bit more about online classes later in this article. What you need to keep in mind is that there is a lot more to checking out phlebotomy training programs than finding the cheapest or the closest one. Other variables including accreditation and reputation are also important considerations and should be part of your decision process as well. To assist in that effort, we will provide a list of questions that you should ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are assessing to help you select the right one for you. But prior to doing that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and then continue our discussion about online schools.

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Phlebotomist Work Description

Fort Smith AR phlebotomy laboratory technicianA phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, draws blood from patients. While that is their primary function, there is in fact so much more to their job description. Before drawing a blood sample, a phlebotomist has to check that the instruments being employed are single use only and sterile. After collection, the sample has to be accurately labeled with the patient's data. Next, paperwork has to be correctly completed in order to track the sample from the time of collection through the lab screening 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 pregnancy, infectious diseases or blood type. Some phlebotomists in fact work in Fort Smith AR laboratories and are in charge of making sure that samples are tested correctly utilizing the strictest quality control procedures. And if those weren't enough duties, they may be required to train other phlebotomists in the collection, transport and follow-up process.

Where are Phlebotomy Techs Employed?

The simplest answer is wherever they treat patients. Their workplaces are numerous and diverse, such as Fort Smith AR hospitals, medical clinics, long-term care facilities, or blood banks. They may be assigned to collect blood samples from patients of of every age, from infants or toddlers to senior citizens. Some phlebotomists, depending on their practice and their training, specialize in collecting samples from a certain type of patient. For example, those practicing in an assisted living facility or nursing home would exclusively be drawing blood from senior patients. If they are practicing in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from mothers and newborns exclusively. In contrast, phlebotomy technicians practicing in a general hospital environment would be collecting blood from a wide variety of patients and would collect samples from different patients on a daily basis.

Phlebotomist Education, Licensing and Certification

blood analysis performed in Fort Smith AR laboratoryThere are essentially two kinds of programs that furnish phlebotomy training, which are degree and certificate programs. The certificate program usually takes less than a year to complete and provides a general education as well as 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 incorporate training on becoming a phlebotomist. Available at junior and community colleges, they normally take two years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are not as accessible and as a 4 year program offer a more expansive foundation in lab sciences. When you have completed your training, you will no doubt want to become certified. Although not required in the majority of states, a number of Fort Smith AR employers look for certification prior to employing technicians. A few of the primary certifying organizations 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 phlebotomist, such as California and Nevada. California and a handful of additional states even require licensing. So it's imperative that you select a phlebotomy training program that not only provides a premium education, but also prepares you for any licensing or certification exams that you elect or are required to take.

Phlebotomist Online Colleges

Fort Smith Arkansas woman attending phlebotomy classes onlineTo begin with, let's resolve one possible misconception. You can't obtain all of your phlebotomy training online. A good part of the course of study will be clinical training and it will be performed either in an on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. Many courses also require completing an internship prior to graduation. But since the non-clinical component of the training can be attended online, it could be a more practical option for some Fort Smith AR students. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs are more affordable than their on-campus counterparts. And some expenditures, such as those for commuting or textbooks, may be lessened also. Just make sure that the online phlebotomist school you enroll in is accredited by a regional or national accrediting organization (more on accreditation later). With both the extensive online and clinical training, you can obtain a superior education with this means of learning. If you are disciplined enough to study at home, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the best option for you.

Questions to Ask Phlebotomy Programs

Since you now have a general idea about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomist, it's time to begin your due diligence process. You may have already selected the type of program you wish to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the campus is significant if you will be commuting from Fort Smith AR in addition to the tuition expense. Maybe you have opted to enroll in an accredited online phlebotomy program. All of these decisions are a critical component of the process for selecting a phlebotomy program or school. But they are not the only concerns when making your decision. Below we have provided several questions that you should ask about each of the colleges you are looking at prior to making your final selection.

Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to Arkansas? As mentioned previously, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomist. Several states call for certification, while some others mandate licensing. Each has its own requirement regarding the minimum amount of practical training completed before working as a phlebotomy tech. Consequently, you may have to pass a State Board, licensing or certification examination. Therefore it's very important to enroll in a phlebotomy program that satisfies 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 phlebotomist program and school you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized national or regional accrediting organization, such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are many advantages to graduating from an accredited program in addition to a guarantee of a superior 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 agencies. Next, accreditation will help in getting loans or financial assistance, which are typically unavailable for non-accredited schools. Finally, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited college can make you more desirable to potential employers in the Fort Smith AR job market.

What is the School's Reputation? In numerous states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomy colleges, so there are those that are not of the highest caliber. So along with accreditation, it's essential to check the reputations of any colleges you are looking at. You can start by requesting references from the schools from employers where they refer their graduates as part of their job assistance program. You can research online school reviews and rating services and solicit the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. You can even check with several Fort Smith AR hospitals or clinics that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insights. As a final thought, you can contact the Arkansas school licensing authority and ask if any grievances have been submitted or if the schools are in full compliance.

Is Adequate Training Provided? First, contact 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 considering should provide no less than 40 hours of classroom training (most require 120) and 120 hours of clinical training. Anything below these minimums may indicate that the program is not expansive enough to offer adequate training.

Are Internships Provided? Find out from the schools you are considering if they have an internship program in partnership with regional medical facilities. They are the optimal way to get 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 look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting your first phlebotomist position will be much easier with the help of a job placement program. Ask if the colleges you are considering offer assistance and what their job placement percentage is. If a school has a higher rate, signifying they place the majority of their students in jobs, it's an indication that the school has both a good reputation as well as an extensive network of professional contacts within the Fort Smith AR medical community.

Are Classes Conveniently Scheduled? Finally, it's important to confirm that the ultimate program you choose provides classes at times that are compatible with your active lifestyle. This is particularly true if you decide to still work while attending college. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Fort Smith AR, make certain they are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure it is an option as well. Even if you have decided to study online, with the clinical training requirement, make certain those hours can also be fulfilled within your schedule. And ask what the make-up procedure is should you need to miss any classes because of emergencies or illness.

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Enroll in the Best Phlebotomist Training Program near Fort Smith Arkansas

Making sure that you enroll in the most suitable phlebotomy training is a critical first step toward your success in this rewarding healthcare career position. As we have covered in this article, there are multiple factors that contribute toward the selection of a quality college. Phlebotomy certificate or degree programs can be found in a number of educational institutes, such as community or junior colleges, trade schools, and colleges and universities that offer an extensive array of courses in medical care and health sciences. Program offerings may vary slightly across the country as every state has its own prerequisites when it pertains to phlebotomy training, certification and licensing. The most critical point is that you must thoroughly evaluate and compare each school before making your final choice. By asking the questions that we have provided, you will be able to fine tune your options so that you can select the best phlebotomist school for you. And with the proper education, you can realize your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Fort Smith AR.