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Become a Phlebotomist in Fort Smith Arkansas

How to Select the Right Phlebotomy Tech Training Program near Fort Smith AR

Fort Smith AR phlebotomy tech drawing bloodSelecting the ideal phlebotomy school near Fort Smith AR is an important initial step toward a fulfilling profession as a phlebotomist. It might seem like a daunting undertaking to assess and compare each of the school alternatives that are available to you. However it's vital that you complete your due diligence to make sure that you receive a quality education. In reality, most prospective students begin the process by looking at 2 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 a bit more about online schools 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 locating the cheapest or the closest one. Other factors including reputation and accreditation are also significant considerations and need to be part of your selection 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 evaluating to help you choose the best one for you. But prior to doing that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards continue our conversation about online schools.

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Phlebotomy Technician Career Description

Fort Smith AR phlebotomist laboratory technicianA phlebotomist, or phlebotomy tech, collects blood samples from patients. Although that is their main duty, there is actually much more to their job description. Before collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist needs to check that the instruments being used are sterile and single use only. After collection, the sample must be accurately labeled with the patient's data. Afterward, paperwork needs to be properly filled out in order to track the sample from the point of collection through the laboratory screening procedure. The phlebotomist then transports the blood to either an an outside lab facility or an in-house lab where it may be screened for such things as infectious diseases, pregnancy or blood type. Some phlebotomists actually work in Fort Smith AR labs and are in charge of making sure that samples are tested properly under the strictest quality assurance procedures. And if those weren't sufficient duties, they may be asked to train other phlebotomists in the collection, delivery and follow-up process.

Where do Phlebotomy Techs Practice?

The easiest answer is wherever there are patients. Their work environments are many and diverse, such as Fort Smith AR medical clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, or blood banks. They can be tasked to collect blood samples from patients of all ages, from infants or young children to senior citizens. Some phlebotomy techs, 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 solely be drawing blood from older patients. If they are practicing in a maternity ward, they would be collecting blood from mothers and newborns exclusively. In contrast, phlebotomists practicing in a general hospital environment would be drawing samples from a wide range of patients and would collect samples from new patients on a daily basis.

Phlebotomist Training, Certification and Licensing

blood testing performed in Fort Smith AR laboratoryThere are primarily two kinds of programs that furnish phlebotomist training, which are degree and certificate programs. The certificate program normally takes less than a year to complete and offers a basic education along with the training on how to draw blood. It provides the quickest route to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, even though it's not exclusively a phlebotomy degree, will provide training on becoming a phlebotomy tech. Offered at community and junior colleges, they typically require 2 years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are less available and as a 4 year program offer a more expansive foundation in lab sciences. After 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 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 require certification in order to practice as a phlebotomy tech, like Nevada and California. California and a handful of other states even require licensing. So it's imperative that you enroll in a phlebotomy training program that not only furnishes a superior education, but also readies you for any certification or licensing examinations that you are required or elect to take.

Phlebotomist Online Training

Fort Smith AR student attending phlebotomy school onlineTo start with, let's resolve one potential misconception. You can't obtain all of your phlebotomist training online. A significant part of the curriculum will be practical 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 may be attended online, it may be a more convenient alternative for many Fort Smith AR students. As an added benefit, some online schools are more affordable than their traditional counterparts. And some expenditures, such as those for textbooks or commuting, may be reduced also. Just confirm that the online phlebotomy college you select is accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). With both the comprehensive online and clinical training, you can receive a superior education with this approach to learning. If you are dedicated enough to study at home, then attaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.

Should You Choose a Career as a Phlebotomy Tech?

Right out of the gate, not many people probably know what a phlebotomist or phlebotomy technician is. As we have already discussed, the basic definition is a health care professional whose job is to draw blood. So of course anyone who selects this profession must be able to handle blood and needles. And if you are nervous in hospitals or other Fort Smith AR medical facilities, well this profession may not be right for you. And then there are the patients. Phlebotomists routinely work around nervous people who don’t like needles or having a blood sample taken. And because most health care facilities are open 24 hours, you may be expected to work weekends, nights and even on holidays. But if you can handle the hours and the needles and blood, and if you enjoy helping people and are patient and compassionate, this could be the perfect job for you.

Questions to Ask Phlebotomy Programs

Questions to ask Fort Smith AR phlebotomy schoolsNow that you have a basic understanding about what it takes to become a phlebotomist, it's time to initiate your due diligence process. You may have already decided on the type of program you wish to enroll in, whether it be for a certificate or a degree. As we previously mentioned, the location of the campus is important if you will be commuting from Fort Smith AR as well as the tuition expense. Possibly you have opted to enroll in an accredited phlebotomist online school. All of these decisions are an important component of the process for selecting a phlebotomy school or program. But they are not the only concerns when making your decision. Following are several questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to Your State? As earlier discussed, each state has its own regulations for practicing as a phlebotomist. Several states call for certification, while some others mandate licensing. Every state has its own requirement regarding the minimum amount of practical training performed before working as a phlebotomist. Consequently, you might have to pass a State Board, licensing or certification exam. Therefore it's very important to select a phlebotomy program that complies with the state specific requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be working and preps you for any examinations you may have to take.

Is the Program Accredited? The phlebotomist school and program you choose should be accredited by a respected regional or national accrediting organization, for example the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are many benefits to graduating from an accredited school in addition to a guarantee of a quality education. First, if your program is not accredited, you will not qualify to sit for a certification examination offered by any of the earlier listed certifying agencies. Also, accreditation will help in securing loans or financial assistance, which are typically unavailable for non-accredited programs. Finally, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited college can make you more attractive to future employers in the Fort Smith AR job market.

What is the College's Reputation? In many states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomy schools, so there are those that are not of the highest quality. So in addition to accreditation, it's essential to check out the reputations of all schools you are considering. 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 internet school rating and review services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. You can also contact some Fort Smith AR clinics or hospitals 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, contact the state regulator where you will be practicing to learn 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 provide at least 40 hours of classroom training (most require 120) and 120 hours of practical training. Anything lower than these minimums might indicate that the program is not comprehensive enough to offer sufficient training.

Are Internships Provided? Ask the colleges you are considering if they have an internship program in collaboration with regional health care facilities. They are the ideal way to receive hands-on clinical training typically not provided on campus. As an added benefit, internships can assist students establish relationships within the local Fort Smith AR health care community. And they are a plus on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Available? Finding your first phlebotomy position will be a lot easier with the help of a job placement program. Ask if the colleges you are considering offer assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a school has a high rate, signifying they place the majority of their students in positions, it's an indication that the college has both a good reputation along with a substantial network of professional contacts within the Fort Smith AR health care community.

Are Class Times Conveniently Scheduled? Finally, it's crucial to confirm that the ultimate program you pick offers classes at times that will accommodate your hectic lifestyle. This is especially true if you decide to continue working while attending college. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Fort Smith AR, make sure they are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend part-time, confirm 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 completed within your schedule. And find out what the make-up policy is should you need to miss any classes due to illness or emergencies.

Choose the Right Phlebotomist Training Program near Fort Smith Arkansas

Making sure that you choose the most suitable phlebotomist training is an essential first step toward your success in this gratifying healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that go into the selection of a quality program. Phlebotomist certificate or degree programs can be available in a wide range of educational institutions, including junior or community colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that provide a comprehensive assortment of courses in medical care and health sciences. Course offerings can differ a bit across the country as every state has its own criteria when it concerns phlebotomy training, certification and licensing. The most critical point is that you need to carefully research and compare each school prior to making your ultimate selection. By asking the questions that we have furnished, you will be able to narrow down your choices so that you can select the ideal phlebotomist school for you. And with the proper education, you can realize your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Fort Smith AR.