How to Choose the Best Phlebotomy Tech School near Birmingham Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal phlebotomy school near Birmingham AL is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a daunting task to investigate and compare all of the training alternatives that are available to you. Nevertheless it's vital that you complete your due diligence to ensure that you obtain a superior education. In reality, many prospective students start their search by looking at 2 of the qualifiers that initially come to mind, which are location and cost. Another option you may look into is whether to attend online classes or commute to a local campus. We'll review 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 cheapest or the closest one. Other variables such as reputation and accreditation are also significant considerations and should be part of your selection process also. Toward that end, we will furnish a list of questions that you should ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are evaluating to help you choose the right one for you. But before we do that, let's cover what a phlebotomist is and does, and then continue our conversation about online training.
Phlebotomist Work Description
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, draws blood from patients. Although that is their main duty, there is actually so much more to their job description. Before drawing a blood sample, a phlebotomist must check that the tools being utilized are sterile and single use only. Following the collection, the sample has to be properly labeled with the patient's information. Afterward, paperwork must be correctly filled out in order to track the sample from the point of collection through the lab testing process. The phlebotomist then transports the blood to either an in-house lab or to an outside lab facility where it can be screened for such things as pregnancy, infectious diseases or blood type. A number of phlebotomists in fact work in Birmingham AL labs and are in charge of ensuring that samples are analyzed properly under the strictest quality control procedures. And if those weren't sufficient duties, they can be asked to train other phlebotomists in the collection, delivery and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomy Techs Work?The simplest answer is wherever they treat patients. Their work places are many and varied, including Birmingham AL medical clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, or blood banks. They can be charged to draw blood samples from patients of all ages, from infants or young children to senior citizens. A number of phlebotomy techs, depending on their training and their practice, specialize in collecting samples from a certain type of patient. For instance, those working in an assisted living facility or nursing home would exclusively be drawing blood from elderly patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from newborns and mothers solely. In contrast, phlebotomy technicians working in a general hospital setting would be collecting blood from a wide variety of patients and would collect samples from new patients on a daily basis.
Phlebotomy Education, Certification and Licensing
There are basically two kinds of programs that furnish phlebotomist training, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program typically takes less than a year to finish and offers a basic education along with the training on how to draw blood. It offers the quickest route to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, although not specifically a phlebotomy degree, will include training to become a phlebotomist. Offered at junior and community colleges, they normally take two years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are not as available and as a 4 year program offer a more comprehensive background in lab sciences. After you have finished your training, you will probably want to become certified. Although not required in most states, most Birmingham AL employers look for certification before hiring technicians. A few of the main certifying agencies include:
- National Phlebotomy Association
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
There are several states that do call for certification in order to practice as a phlebotomy tech, such as 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 furnishes a superior education, but also preps you for any licensing or certification examinations that you elect or are required to take.
Phlebotomy Online Schools
First, let's dispel one likely misconception. You can't obtain all of your phlebotomy training online. A significant portion of the curriculum will be practical training and it will be conducted either in an on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. Numerous courses also require completing an internship prior to graduation. But since the non-practical component of the training can be accessed online, it might be a more convenient option for some Birmingham AL students. As an additional benefit, many online classes are less expensive than their on-campus competitors. And some costs, such as those for commuting or textbooks, may be reduced as well. Just confirm that the online phlebotomy program you enroll in is accredited by a national or regional accrediting organization (more on accreditation later). With both the comprehensive online and clinical training, you can obtain a premium education with this method of learning. If you are dedicated enough to study at home, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the best option for you.
What to Ask Phlebotomist Colleges
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 kind of program you wish to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the college is significant if you will be commuting from Birmingham AL as well as the cost of tuition. Perhaps you have decided to enroll in an accredited online phlebotomy program. All of these decisions are a critical component of the process for choosing a phlebotomy school or program. But they are not the only concerns when arriving at your decision. Below we have provided some questions that you should ask about each of the colleges you are looking at before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Phlebotomist Program Specific to Your State? As previously mentioned, each state has its own regulations for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Some states call for certification, while some others mandate licensing. Every state has its own requirement regarding the minimum amount of practical training completed before practicing as a phlebotomy tech. As a result, you may need to pass a State Board, licensing or certification exam. Therefore it's extremely important to choose a phlebotomist program that fulfills the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing and readies you for any exams you may be required to take.
Is the College Accredited? The phlebotomy school and program you pick should be accredited by a recognized national or regional accrediting organization, such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are several advantages to graduating from an accredited school aside from a guarantee of a premium 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 earlier listed certifying agencies. Also, accreditation will help in obtaining loans or financial assistance, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Finally, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited school can make you more desirable to future employers in the Birmingham AL job market.
What is the College's Ranking? In a number of states there is minimal 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 check out the reputations of all colleges you are looking at. You can begin by asking the schools for references from employers where they place their students as part of their job placement program. You can research online school rating and review services and solicit the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. You can even talk to several Birmingham AL clinics or hospitals that you may be interested in working for and see if they can offer any recommendations. As a closing thought, you can contact the Alabama school licensing authority and find out if any grievances have been submitted or if the schools are in total compliance.
Is Sufficient Training Provided? First, contact the Alabama state regulator where you will be practicing to learn if there are any minimum requirements for the amount of training, both clinical and classroom. As a minimum, any phlebotomist program that you are looking at should furnish no less than 40 hours of classroom training (most require 120) and 120 hours of practical training. Anything less than these minimums might indicate that the program is not comprehensive enough to provide adequate training.
Are Internships Provided? Find out from the programs you are reviewing if they have an internship program in partnership with regional healthcare facilities. They are the optimal way to get hands-on clinical training frequently not obtainable on campus. As an added benefit, internships can assist students develop contacts within the local Birmingham AL healthcare community. And they are a plus on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Available? Getting your first phlebotomy job will be a lot easier with the support of a job placement program. Inquire if the programs you are looking at offer assistance and what their job placement percentage is. If a college has a high rate, signifying they place most of their students in jobs, it's an indication that the program has both a good reputation along with an extensive network of professional contacts within the Birmingham AL health care community.
Are Classes Conveniently Scheduled? And last, it's crucial to verify that the final college you pick provides classes at times that will accommodate your busy lifestyle. This is especially true if you decide to continue working while attending college. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Birmingham AL, make certain they are available 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 ask what the make-up policy 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 OK around blood and needles. And if you are nervous in hospitals or other Birmingham AL medical environments, well this profession may not be the best choice for you. And now let’s talk about the patients. Phlebotomists tend to work around nervous people who don’t like needles or having a blood sample taken. And because most health care facilities are open around the clock, you may be expected to work weekends, nights and even on holidays. But if you don’t mind working with the blood and needles, and if you enjoy interacting with people and are compassionate and very patient, this may be the right job for you.
Pick the Best Birmingham Phlebotomy Training
Making certain that you select the right phlebotomy training is an essential first step toward your success in this gratifying healthcare career position. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that contribute toward the selection of a quality school. Phlebotomist training programs can be found in a number of academic institutes, such as community or junior colleges, trade schools, and colleges and universities that offer a comprehensive range of programs in healthcare and medical sciences. Course offerings may differ somewhat across the country as each state has its own requirements when it comes to phlebotomist training, licensing and certification. The most important point is that you need to carefully screen and compare each school before making your final decision. By addressing the questions that we have furnished, you will be able to narrow down your choices so that you can select the right phlebotomy program for you. And with the appropriate education, you can realize your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Birmingham Alabama.