How to Choose the Best Phlebotomy Tech Training Course near Fort Smith AR
Selecting the ideal phlebotomy training near Fort Smith AR is a critical initial step toward a fulfilling career as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a difficult task to evaluate and compare each of the training alternatives that are available to you. However it's vital that you complete your due diligence to make sure that you get a quality education. In reality, many prospective students begin the process by looking at 2 of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are location and cost. Yet another factor you might consider 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's important to remember is that there is a lot 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 should be part of your decision process as well. Toward that end, we will furnish a list of questions that you need to ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are evaluating 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 discussion about online schools.
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Phlebotomy Tech Career Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, draws blood from patients. Although that is their main task, there is actually so much more to their job description. Before collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist needs to verify that the instruments being used are single use only and sterile. After collection, the sample must be correctly labeled with the patient's information. Next, paperwork has to be correctly completed to be able to track the sample from the time of collection through the laboratory screening process. 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 infectious diseases, pregnancy or blood type. Many phlebotomists in fact work in Fort Smith AR labs and are responsible for making certain that samples are analyzed properly using the highest quality control procedures. And if those weren't enough duties, they can be asked to train other phlebotomists in the drawing, transport and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomy Techs Practice?
The quickest answer is wherever patients are treated. Their work places are numerous and diverse, including Fort Smith AR medical clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, or blood banks. They can be assigned to collect blood samples from patients of all ages, from infants or young children to seniors. Some phlebotomists, depending on their practice and their training, specialize in collecting samples from a particular kind of patient. For example, those practicing in a nursing home or assisted living facility would exclusively be collecting blood from senior patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be collecting blood from mothers and newborns exclusively. In contrast, phlebotomy technicians working in a general hospital setting would be collecting samples from a wide variety of patients and would collect samples from different patients every day.
Phlebotomist Education, Certification and Licensing
There are essentially 2 types of programs that furnish phlebotomy training, which are degree and certificate programs. The certificate program typically takes under a year to finish and offers a basic education together with the training on how to draw blood. It provides the fastest route to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, even though it's not exclusively a phlebotomy degree, will include training on becoming a phlebotomist. Available at junior and community colleges, they normally take 2 years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are not as available and as a 4 year program offer a more comprehensive background in lab sciences. When you have finished your training, you will no doubt want to be certified. While not required in most states, most Fort Smith AR employers require certification before hiring technicians. Some of the key certifying organizations include:
- National Phlebotomy Association
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
There are several states that do require certification prior to practicing as a phlebotomist, including Nevada and California. California and a handful of other states even require licensing. So it's imperative that you enroll in a phlebotomist training program that not only supplies a premium education, but also prepares you for any certification or licensing examinations that you are required or elect to take.
Phlebotomist Online Schools
First, let's resolve one likely misconception. You can't get all of your phlebotomist training online. A significant component of the curriculum will be clinical training and it will be carried out either in an on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. A large number of 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 could be a more convenient option for some Fort Smith AR students. As an added benefit, many online classes are more affordable than their on-campus counterparts. And some costs, such as those for commuting or textbooks, may be reduced as well. Just make certain that the online phlebotomy program you choose is accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). With both the extensive clinical and online training, you can receive a premium education with this method 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.
Topics to Ask Phlebotomy Schools
Now that you have a general idea about what it takes to become a phlebotomist, it's time to initiate your due diligence process. You might have already decided on the kind of program you intend to enroll in, whether it be for a certificate or a degree. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the campus is important if you will be commuting from Fort Smith AR as well as the cost of tuition. Maybe you have decided to enroll in an accredited phlebotomy online program. All of these decisions are an important part of the procedure for selecting a phlebotomy program or school. But they are not the only considerations when making your decision. Below we have provided some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are reviewing before making your final selection.
Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to Your State? As mentioned previously, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Several states require certification, while a few others require licensing. Each has its own requirement regarding the minimum amount of clinical training completed before working as a phlebotomy tech. As a result, you may have to pass a State Board, certification or licensing examination. Therefore it's extremely important to select a phlebotomy program that fulfills the state specific requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing and prepares you for all examinations you may have to take.
Is the School Accredited? The phlebotomist program and school you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded regional or national 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 an assurance of a premium education. First, if your program has not received accreditation, you will not qualify to take a certification exam administered by any of the previously listed certifying organizations. Next, accreditation will help in securing financial aid or loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Finally, graduating from an accredited school can make you more attractive to future employers in the Fort Smith AR job market.
What is the School's Ranking? In many states there is little or no regulation of phlebotomy schools, so there are those that are not of the highest caliber. So along with accreditation, it's essential to investigate the reputations of all colleges you are looking at. You can start by asking the schools for references from employers where they refer their graduates as part of their job placement program. You can research internet school reviews and rating services and solicit the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. You can also talk to several Fort Smith AR clinics or hospitals that you might have an interest in working for and find out if they can provide any insights. As a final thought, you can contact the Arkansas school licensing authority and find out if any complaints have been submitted or if the colleges are in total compliance.
Is Sufficient Training Included? First, check with the state regulator where you will be practicing 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 considering should provide at least 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of practical training. Anything less than these minimums might signify that the program is not expansive enough to furnish adequate training.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out from the schools you are considering if they have an internship program in partnership with local medical facilities. They are the ideal way to get hands-on practical training often not obtainable on campus. As an added benefit, internships can assist students establish contacts within the local Fort Smith AR medical community. And they are a plus on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Available? Getting your first phlebotomist job will be much easier with the support of a job placement program. Ask if the colleges you are considering offer assistance and what their job placement percentage is. If a college has a high rate, signifying they place most of their students in positions, it's an indication that the program has both an excellent reputation along with an extensive network of professional contacts within the Fort Smith AR healthcare community.
Are Classes Conveniently Scheduled? And last, it's crucial to confirm that the ultimate college you pick provides classes at times that are compatible with your active lifestyle. This is particularly true if you choose to continue working 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. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm it is an option as well. And if you have decided to attend online, with the clinical training requirement, make certain those hours can also be completed within your schedule. And find out what the make-up policy is should you need to miss any classes as a result of emergencies or illness.
Choose the Right Phlebotomist Training Program near Fort Smith Arkansas
Making sure that you enroll in the ideal phlebotomy training is an essential first step toward your success in this gratifying medical care career position. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that go into the selection of a premium college. Phlebotomist certificate or degree programs are found in a wide range of academic institutes, such as junior or community colleges, trade schools, and colleges and universities that offer a wide assortment of courses in healthcare and medical sciences. Training program offerings may differ a bit across the country as each state has its own mandates when it pertains to phlebotomy training, licensing and certification. The most critical point is that you must carefully screen and compare each program before making your ultimate decision. By asking the questions that we have presented, you will be able to fine tune your choices so that you can pick the best phlebotomist school for you. And with the appropriate training, you can accomplish your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Fort Smith AR.