How to Choose the Right Phlebotomist School near Alexandria Alabama
Enrolling in the right phlebotomist school near Alexandria AL is an important first step toward a rewarding career as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a difficult undertaking to evaluate and compare all of the training options that are available to you. However it's necessary that you complete your due diligence to make certain that you receive a quality education. In fact, many prospective students begin their search by looking at 2 of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are location and cost. Yet another option you might look into is whether to attend classes online or commute to a local campus. We'll talk more about online schools later in this article. What's important to keep in mind is that there is a lot more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than locating the closest or the cheapest one. Other variables such as reputation and accreditation are also important considerations and must be part of your selection process too. Toward that end, we will supply a list of questions that you should ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are evaluating to help you pick the right one for you. But prior to doing that, let's cover what a phlebotomist is and does, and then continue our conversation about online classes.
Phlebotomist Work Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, collects blood samples from patients. While that is their principal function, there is actually far more to their job description. Prior to drawing a blood sample, a phlebotomist has to verify that the tools being used are single use only and sterile. Following the collection, the sample needs to be properly labeled with the patient's data. Next, paperwork needs to be accurately filled out to be able to track the sample from the point of collection through the lab testing procedure. The phlebotomist then delivers 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. Some phlebotomists actually work in Alexandria AL labs and are responsible for making certain that samples are tested correctly under the highest quality assurance procedures. And if those weren't enough responsibilities, they can be called upon to instruct other phlebotomists in the drawing, transport and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomists Practice?The easiest response is wherever they treat patients. Their work places are many and varied, such as Alexandria AL hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, or blood centers. They may be assigned to draw blood samples from patients of of every age, from infants or young children to seniors. Some phlebotomy techs, depending on their practice and their training, specialize in collecting samples from a certain type of patient. For instance, those working in a nursing home or assisted living facility would only be collecting blood from older 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 drawing samples from a wide variety of patients and would collect samples from different patients every day.
Phlebotomy Technician Education, Certification and Licensing
There are essentially 2 types of programs that offer phlebotomy training, which are degree and certificate programs. The certificate program generally takes less than a year to complete and offers a general education as well as the training on how to draw blood. It offers the fastest method 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 to become a phlebotomy tech. Offered at community and junior colleges, they typically require 2 years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are not as available and as a four year program offer a more expansive foundation in lab sciences. When you have finished your training, you will probably want to be certified. While not mandated in most states, many Alexandria AL employers require certification prior to employing technicians. Some 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, including California and Nevada. California and a few other states even require licensing. So it's imperative that you select a phlebotomy training program that not only furnishes a quality education, but also preps you for any licensing or certification exams that you elect or are required to take.
Online Phlebotomy Schools
To start with, let's resolve one likely misconception. You can't obtain all of your phlebotomy training online. A significant part of the program of studies will be practical training and it will be conducted either in an on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. A large number of courses also require completing an internship prior to graduation. But since the non-practical portion of the training may be accessed online, it could be a more convenient option for many Alexandria AL students. As an additional benefit, some online schools are more affordable than their traditional competitors. And some costs, such as those for commuting or textbooks, may be lowered as well. Just make sure that the online phlebotomist school you enroll in is accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency (more on accreditation to follow). With both the extensive online and clinical training, you can obtain a premium education with this approach to learning. If you are dedicated enough to learn at home, then attaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Phlebotomist Schools
Since you now have a general idea about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomy tech, it's time to start your due diligence process. You may have already chosen the type of program you intend to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we previously mentioned, the location of the campus is relevant if you will be commuting from Alexandria AL as well as the tuition expense. Maybe you have decided to enroll in an accredited online phlebotomy school. Each of these decisions are a critical component of the procedure for picking a phlebotomy program or school. But they are not the sole considerations when making your decision. Below we have provided a few questions that you need to ask about each of the colleges you are looking at before making your final selection.
Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to Your State? As earlier discussed, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomist. Several states require certification, while some others mandate licensing. Each has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum hours of practical training completed before working as a phlebotomist. Consequently, you may need to pass a State Board, certification or licensing examination. Therefore it's extremely important to enroll in a phlebotomist program that fulfills the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working and readies you for any exams you may have to take.
Is the College Accredited? The phlebotomy program and school you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized national or regional accrediting agency, such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are many advantages 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 qualify to sit for a certification exam offered by any of the previously listed certifying agencies. Next, accreditation will help in securing loans or financial assistance, which are typically not available for non-accredited schools. Finally, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited college can make you more attractive to prospective employers in the Alexandria AL job market.
What is the Program's Reputation? In numerous states there is little or no regulation of phlebotomist schools, so there are some that are not of the highest caliber. So in addition to accreditation, it's important to check the reputations of any colleges you are considering. You can begin by asking the schools for references from employers where they refer their graduates as part of their job placement program. You can screen internet school reviews and rating services and solicit the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. You can also contact a few Alexandria AL clinics or hospitals that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations. As a final thought, you can check with the Alabama school licensing authority and find out if any complaints have been filed or if the schools are in total compliance.
Is Sufficient Training Provided? First, check with the Alabama state regulator where you will be practicing to learn if there are any minimum requirements for the length of training, both clinical and classroom. At a minimum, any phlebotomy program that you are reviewing should provide no less than 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of clinical training. Anything lower than these minimums may indicate that the program is not expansive enough to offer adequate training.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out from the programs you are reviewing if they have an internship program in collaboration with area healthcare facilities. They are the ideal way to receive hands-on practical training typically not obtainable on campus. As an added benefit, internships can help students develop relationships within the local Alexandria AL health care community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing your first phlebotomist position will be a lot easier with the assistance of a job placement program. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing provide assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a college has a high rate, meaning they place the majority of their students in jobs, it's an indication that the college has both a good reputation as well as a substantial network of professional contacts within the Alexandria AL medical community.
Are Class Times Compatible With Your Schedule? Finally, it's crucial to verify that the final college you pick provides classes at times that will accommodate your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Alexandria AL, check that they are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure it is an option also. And if you have decided to study online, with the clinical training requirement, make sure those hours can also be completed within your schedule. And ask what the make-up procedure is in case you have to miss any classes as a result of illness or emergencies.
Should You Go to School to Become a Phlebotomy Tech?
Anyone who decides to enter this profession must be comfortable with blood and needles. And if you are not comfortable in hospitals or other Alexandria AL medical environments, well this profession may not be the best choice for you. And then there are the patients. Phlebotomy Technicians routinely work with nervous people who don’t like needles or having their blood taken. And because many medical facilities are open 24 hours, you will probably be required to work weekends, nights and even on holidays. But if you don’t mind working with the needles and blood, and if you enjoy interacting with people and are patient and compassionate, this could be the perfect profession for you.
Pick the Right Alexandria Phlebotomy Course
Making certain that you choose the right phlebotomy training is a critical first step toward your success in this gratifying health care career position. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that contribute toward the selection of a superior program. Phlebotomy certificate or degree programs are available in a wide range of educational institutes, including junior or community colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that offer a wide assortment of programs in medical care and health sciences. Program offerings may differ a bit from state to state as every state has its own criteria when it comes to phlebotomy training, licensing and certification. The most important point is that you must thoroughly evaluate and compare each college prior to making your ultimate decision. By addressing the questions that we have provided, you will be able to narrow down your options so that you can pick the ideal phlebotomy program for you. And with the appropriate training, you can achieve your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Alexandria Alabama.