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Become a Phlebotomist in Fort Smith Arkansas

How to Pick the Right Phlebotomy Tech Training Course near Fort Smith AR

Fort Smith AR phlebotomy tech drawing bloodSelecting the ideal phlebotomy school near Fort Smith AR is an important first step toward a rewarding career as a phlebotomist. It might seem like a challenging task to evaluate and compare all of the training options that are available to you. However it's important that you complete your due diligence to ensure that you obtain a quality education. In fact, a large number of prospective students start the process by considering two of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are cost and location. Another option you may consider is whether to attend classes online or commute to a local campus. We'll review a bit more about online schools later in this article. What you need to remember is that there is a lot more to checking out phlebotomy training programs than finding the closest or the cheapest one. Other variables such as accreditation and reputation are also significant considerations and should be part of your decision process also. Toward that end, we will provide a list of questions that you need to ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are reviewing to help you choose the right one for you. But before we do that, let's cover what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards resume our discussion about online schools.

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Phlebotomy Technician Career Summary

Fort Smith AR phlebotomy laboratory techA phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, draws blood from patients. Although that is their principal task, there is in fact so much more to their job description. Prior to collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist needs to confirm that the tools being utilized are single use only and sterile. Following the collection, the sample must be correctly labeled with the patient's information. Next, paperwork must be accurately completed in order to track the sample from the point of collection through the laboratory testing process. The phlebotomist then delivers the blood to either an an outside lab facility or an in-house lab where it can be screened for such things as infectious diseases, pregnancy or blood type. Some phlebotomists in fact work in Fort Smith AR labs and are responsible for making sure that samples are tested correctly using the strictest quality control procedures. And if those weren't enough duties, they may be required to train other phlebotomists in the drawing, transport and follow-up process.

Where do Phlebotomists Practice?

The most basic response is wherever they treat patients. Their work environments are many and varied, such as Fort Smith AR hospitals, medical clinics, long-term care facilities, or blood banks. They can be tasked to collect blood samples from patients of all ages, from babies or young children to seniors. A number of phlebotomists, based on their practice and their training, specialize in drawing samples from a certain type of patient. For example, those working in a nursing home or assisted living facility would only be drawing blood from elderly patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be collecting blood from mothers and newborns solely. On the other hand, phlebotomists practicing in a general hospital environment would be collecting samples from a wide range of patients and would collect samples from new patients on a daily basis.

Phlebotomy Technician Education, Licensing and Certification

blood analysis done in Fort Smith AR laboratoryThere are basically two types of programs that provide phlebotomist training, which are degree and certificate programs. The certificate program typically takes under a year to finish and offers a general education as well as the training on how to draw blood. It offers the quickest means to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, although not specifically a phlebotomist degree, will incorporate training on becoming a phlebotomy tech. Offered at community and junior colleges, they typically require two years to complete. Bachelor's Degrees are not as available and as a 4 year program provide a more comprehensive foundation in lab sciences. After you have finished your training, you will no doubt want to get certified. While not mandated in most states, many Fort Smith AR employers require certification before employing 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 in order to practice as a phlebotomy tech, including Nevada and California. California and a few additional 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 preps you for any licensing or certification exams that you are required or elect to take.

Online Phlebotomy Schools

Fort Smith AR student attending phlebotomy school onlineTo start with, let's resolve one likely misconception. You can't get all of your phlebotomist training online. A substantial portion of the program of studies will be clinical training and it will be performed either in an on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. A large number of courses also require completion of an internship prior to graduation. But since the non-practical portion of the training can be accessed online, it could be a more convenient alternative for many Fort Smith AR students. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs are less expensive than their on-campus counterparts. And some expenses, such as those for commuting or textbooks, may be minimized also. Just make sure that the online phlebotomist program you enroll in is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency (more on accreditation to follow). With both the extensive clinical and online training, you can receive a premium education with this approach to learning. If you are disciplined enough to learn at home, then attaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Phlebotomy Schools

Since you now 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 kind of program you want to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the school is relevant if you will be commuting from Fort Smith AR in addition to the tuition expense. Maybe you have decided to enroll in an accredited phlebotomy online school. All of these decisions are a critical part of the process for choosing a phlebotomy school or program. But they are not the sole concerns when making your decision. Following are several questions that you should ask about all of the colleges you are considering prior to making your final selection.

Is the Phlebotomist Program State Specific? As earlier discussed, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomist. Several states call for certification, while a few others mandate licensing. Each has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum hours of practical training completed prior to working as a phlebotomy tech. Consequently, you may need to pass a State Board, certification or licensing exam. Therefore it's extremely important to choose a phlebotomy program that complies with the state specific requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing and prepares you for all examinations you may be required to take.

Is the College Accredited? The phlebotomy program and school you select should be accredited by a respected regional or national accrediting agency, such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are many benefits to graduating from an accredited program aside from an assurance of a quality education. To begin with, if your program is not accredited, you will not be able to take a certification examination administered by any of the previously listed certifying organizations. 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 attractive to future employers in the Fort Smith AR job market.

What is the College's Reputation? In many states there is little or no regulation of phlebotomy colleges, so there are some that are not of the highest quality. So in addition to accreditation, it's essential to investigate the reputations of all colleges you are reviewing. You can start by asking the schools for references from employers where they refer their students as part of their job assistance program. You can screen online school rating and review services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. You can also contact a few Fort Smith AR hospitals or clinics that you might be interested in working for and see if they can provide any insights. As a closing thought, you can check with the Arkansas school licensing authority and find out if any complaints have been submitted or if the colleges are in total compliance.

Is Adequate Training Included? First, check with the state regulator where you will be working to find out if there are any minimum requirements for the length of training, both classroom and practical. As 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 lower than these minimums may signify that the program is not comprehensive enough to offer adequate training.

Are Internship Programs Included? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing if they have an internship program in partnership with regional health care facilities. They are the optimal way to get hands-on clinical training often 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 also.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing your first phlebotomist job will be much easier with the support of a job placement program. Inquire if the programs you are considering offer assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a college has a higher rate, signifying they place the majority of their students in positions, it's an indication that the college has both an excellent reputation along with a large network of professional contacts within the Fort Smith AR medical community.

Are Class Times Compatible With Your Schedule? And last, it's critical to verify that the ultimate college you select provides classes at times that will accommodate your busy lifestyle. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fort Smith AR, make certain they are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend part-time, 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 find out what the make-up policy is should you have to miss any classes due to illness or emergencies.

Pick the Right Phlebotomy Training Program near Fort Smith Arkansas

Fort Smith AR phlebotomist lab blood testingMaking certain that you choose the right phlebotomist training is an important first step toward your success in this rewarding medical care career position. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that contribute toward the selection of a superior college. Phlebotomist training programs can be available in a wide range of educational institutes, including community or junior colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that offer an extensive range of courses in medical care and health sciences. Program options can differ slightly across the country as each state has its own criteria when it concerns phlebotomy training, licensing and certification. The most critical point is that you must carefully screen and compare each college prior to making your final decision. By addressing the questions that we have presented, you will be able to narrow down your options so that you can select the best phlebotomy college for you. And with the proper training, you can reach your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Fort Smith AR.