How to Select the Right Phlebotomist Training Classes near Fort Smith AR
Choosing the right phlebotomy school near Fort Smith AR is an essential initial step toward a fulfilling profession as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a difficult task to assess and compare each of the training options that are accessible to you. However it's vital that you do your due diligence to make certain that you get a quality education. In reality, a large number of prospective students start their search by looking at two of the qualifiers that initially come to mind, which are location and cost. An additional option you might look into is whether to attend classes online or commute to an area 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 much more to checking out phlebotomy training programs than finding the closest or the cheapest one. Other factors including reputation and accreditation are also important considerations and must be part of your decision process too. To assist in that effort, we will furnish a list of questions that you need to 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 cover what a phlebotomist is and does, and then continue our discussion about online training.
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Phlebotomy Technician Work Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy tech, draws blood from patients. While that is their principal responsibility, there is actually so much more to their job description. Prior to collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist must check that the tools being employed are sterile and single use only. Following the collection, the sample needs to be properly labeled with the patient's data. Afterward, paperwork has to be accurately completed in order to track the sample from the time of collection through the laboratory testing procedure. 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 pregnancy, infectious diseases or blood type. A number of phlebotomists in fact work in Fort Smith AR laboratories and are responsible for making sure that samples are analyzed correctly under the highest quality assurance procedures. And if those weren't enough responsibilities, they may be asked to train other phlebotomists in the collection, delivery and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomy Techs Practice?
The simplest answer is wherever there are patients. Their work environments are many and diverse, including Fort Smith AR hospitals, medical clinics, long-term care facilities, or blood banks. They can be charged to collect blood samples from patients of all ages, from infants or young children to senior citizens. A number of phlebotomists, based on their training and their practice, specialize in drawing samples from a specific type of patient. For example, those working in a nursing home or assisted living facility would exclusively be collecting blood from older patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from mothers and newborns solely. On the other hand, phlebotomists practicing in a general hospital setting would be drawing blood from a wide variety of patients and would collect samples from different patients on a daily basis.
Phlebotomist Training, Certification and Licensing
There are primarily two types of programs that provide phlebotomist training, which are degree and certificate programs. The certificate program normally takes under a year to complete and offers a general education along with the training on how to draw blood. It provides the quickest means 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. Available at community and junior colleges, they normally require 2 years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are less accessible and as a four year program provide a more extensive foundation in lab sciences. After you have finished your training, you will probably want to become certified. While not mandated in most states, many Fort Smith AR employers require certification prior to hiring technicians. Some of the principal certifying organizations 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 other states even require licensing. So it's essential that you choose a phlebotomy training program that not only supplies a superior education, but also preps you for any licensing or certification exams that you elect or are required to take.
Phlebotomist Online Schools
First, let's dispel one likely mistaken belief. You can't get all of your phlebotomy training online. A significant component of the program of studies will be practical training and it will be performed either in an on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. Many courses also require completion of an internship in order to graduate. However since the non-practical part of the training can be attended online, it may be a more practical alternative for some Fort Smith AR students. As an added benefit, some online classes are more affordable than their traditional competitors. And some expenses, for instance those for commuting or textbooks, may be lowered as well. Just make sure that the online phlebotomy school you choose 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 quality education with this means of learning. If you are dedicated enough to learn at home, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Should You Choose a Career as a Phlebotomy Tech?First of all, few people are likely to know what a phlebotomy tech or phlebotomist is. As we have already discussed, the short definition is a medical professional who draws blood from patients. So naturally anyone who selects this profession must be able to handle blood and needles. And if you are anxious in hospitals or other Fort Smith AR medical environments, well this profession probably is not right for you. And then there are the patients. Phlebotomy Technicians often work with anxious people who don’t like needles or having a blood sample drawn. And because many medical facilities are open 24 hours, you may be required to work weekends, nights 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 compassionate and very patient, this may be the perfect profession for you.
Points to Ask Phlebotomist Schools
Now that you 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 picked the kind of program you wish to enroll in, whether it be for a certificate or a degree. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the school is relevant if you will be commuting from Fort Smith AR as well as the cost of tuition. Perhaps you have decided to enroll in an accredited phlebotomist online program. All of these decisions are an important component of the procedure for choosing a phlebotomy school or program. But they are not the sole considerations when making your decision. Below we have provided some questions that you need to ask about each of the colleges you are looking at before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to Arkansas? As earlier discussed, each state has its own requirements for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Some states require certification, while a few others require licensing. Each has its own requirement regarding the minimum hours of clinical training performed before practicing as a phlebotomy tech. As a result, you may have to pass a State Board, licensing or certification exam. Therefore it's extremely important to enroll in a phlebotomist program that satisfies the state specific requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be working and readies you for all exams you may have to take.
Is the School Accredited? The phlebotomy school and program you pick should be accredited by a reputable national or regional accrediting organization, for example the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are several advantages to graduating from an accredited program aside from a guarantee of a premium education. First, if your program is not accredited, you will not qualify to sit for a certification exam offered by any of the earlier listed certifying agencies. Also, accreditation will help in securing financial aid or loans, which are typically unavailable for non-accredited colleges. 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 College's Reputation? In numerous states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomy colleges, so there are some that are not of the highest quality. So along with accreditation, it's imperative to check out the reputations of all colleges you are looking at. 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 ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. You can also contact some Fort Smith AR clinics or hospitals that you might have an interest in working for and see if they can offer any recommendations. As a final thought, you can check with the Arkansas school licensing authority and ask if any complaints have been filed or if the schools are in full compliance.
Is Plenty of Training Provided? To begin with, contact the state regulator where you will be practicing to learn if there are any minimum requirements for the amount of training, both clinical and classroom. At a minimum, any phlebotomy program that you are looking at should furnish at least 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 provide sufficient training.
Are Internships Included? Find out from the colleges you are looking at if they have an internship program in collaboration with regional healthcare facilities. They are the ideal way to obtain hands-on practical training often not provided on campus. As an added benefit, internships can assist students develop relationships within the local Fort Smith AR health care community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing your first phlebotomy job will be much easier with the assistance of a job placement program. Inquire if the colleges you are considering offer assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a school has a higher rate, signifying they place most of their students in jobs, it's an indication that the school has both a good reputation together with an extensive network of professional contacts within the Fort Smith AR healthcare community.
Are Class Times Compatible With Your Schedule? And last, it's critical to confirm that the ultimate college you select offers classes at times that are compatible with your busy lifestyle. This is especially true if you decide to still work while attending school. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fort Smith AR, check that they are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm it is an option also. And if you have decided to study online, with the practical training requirement, make certain those hours can also be completed within your schedule. And ask what the make-up procedure is should you need to miss any classes as a result of emergencies or illness.
Choose the Best Phlebotomy Training Program near Fort Smith Arkansas
Making sure that you enroll in the ideal phlebotomy training is a critical first step toward your success in this gratifying health care field. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple factors that contribute toward the selection of a premium program. Phlebotomy certificate or degree programs can be offered in a wide range of academic institutions, including community or junior colleges, trade schools, and colleges and universities that offer an extensive range of programs in medical care and health sciences. Training program options may differ somewhat from state to state as each state has its own prerequisites when it pertains to phlebotomist training, licensing and certification. The most critical point is that you need to carefully research and compare each school before making your ultimate choice. By addressing the questions that we have presented, you will be able to fine tune your choices so that you can pick the ideal phlebotomy college for you. And with the proper training, you can realize your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Fort Smith AR.