How to Select the Best Phlebotomist School near Opelika Alabama
Picking the ideal phlebotomy technician school near Opelika AL is an important initial step toward a rewarding profession as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a difficult task to investigate and compare each of the school options that are accessible to you. However it's vital that you complete your due diligence to make sure that you receive a quality education. In reality, most potential students start the process by considering 2 of the qualifiers that initially come to mind, which are cost and location. Another factor you may consider is whether to attend classes online or commute to a nearby campus. We'll discuss more about online classes later in this article. What's important to remember is that there is much more to checking out phlebotomy training programs than finding the closest or the cheapest one. Other variables such as accreditation and reputation are also important considerations and should be part of your decision process too. To assist in that effort, we will provide a list of questions that you should ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are assessing to help you pick the right one for you. But prior to doing that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards continue our discussion about online schools.
Phlebotomy Technician Work Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, collects blood samples from patients. Although that is their principal task, there is actually far more to their job description. Before collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist has to verify that the tools being employed are single use only and sterile. After collection, the sample must be correctly labeled with the patient's data. Next, paperwork has to be properly completed in order to track the sample from the time of collection through the lab screening procedure. 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 infectious diseases, pregnancy or blood type. A number of phlebotomists in fact work in Opelika AL laboratories and are in charge of making certain that samples are tested properly using the highest quality assurance procedures. And if those weren't enough duties, they might be called upon to train other phlebotomists in the drawing, transport and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomy Techs Work?The quickest response is wherever patients are treated. Their workplaces are many and diverse, such as Opelika AL medical clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, or blood centers. They can be assigned to draw blood samples from patients of all ages, from infants or toddlers to seniors. A number of phlebotomists, based on their practice and their training, specialize in drawing blood from a particular type 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 drawing blood from newborns and mothers solely. On the other hand, phlebotomy technicians practicing in a general hospital setting would be drawing samples from a wide variety of patients and would collect samples from new patients on a daily basis.
Phlebotomist Education, Licensing and Certification
There are basically 2 types of programs that offer phlebotomy training, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program normally takes under a year to finish and furnishes a basic education as well as the training on how to draw blood. It provides the fastest means 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 phlebotomy tech. Offered at community and junior colleges, they usually require two years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are not as available and as a four year program provide a more comprehensive foundation in lab sciences. After you have completed your training, you will probably want to be certified. While not required in most states, many Opelika AL employers require certification before hiring 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 phlebotomist, like California and Nevada. California and a few other states even require licensing. So it's imperative that you select a phlebotomist training program that not only furnishes a premium education, but also preps you for any licensing or certification examinations that you are required or elect to take.
Online Phlebotomy Training
To start with, let's dispel one possible mistaken belief. You can't obtain all of your phlebotomy training online. A good part of the course of study will be practical training and it will be conducted either in an approved healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. A large number of courses also require completing an internship prior to graduation. But since the non-practical component of the training may be attended online, it could be a more practical option for many Opelika AL students. As an additional benefit, many online classes are more affordable than their on-campus counterparts. And some expenses, such as those for commuting or textbooks, may be lessened also. Just make sure that the online phlebotomist school you enroll in is accredited by a regional or national accrediting organization (more on accreditation later). With both the extensive 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 obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Phlebotomist Courses
Now that you have a general understanding about what it takes to become a phlebotomist, it's time to start your due diligence process. You may have already chosen the type of program you want to enroll in, whether it be for a certificate or a degree. As we previously mentioned, the location of the college is relevant if you will be commuting from Opelika AL in addition to the tuition expense. Perhaps you have decided to enroll in an accredited online phlebotomist program. Each of these decisions are a critical component of the process for selecting a phlebotomy school or program. But they are not the sole considerations when making your decision. Below we have provided several questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering prior to making your final selection.
Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to Alabama? As mentioned previously, each state has its own regulations for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Several states require certification, while some others mandate licensing. Each has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum hours of practical training performed before practicing as a phlebotomist. Consequently, you may need to pass a State Board, certification or licensing exam. Therefore it's very important to choose a phlebotomist program that fulfills the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working and preps you for all examinations you may be required to take.
Is the School Accredited? The phlebotomist program and school you enroll in 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 many advantages to graduating from an accredited school in addition to an assurance of a quality education. First, if your program is not accredited, you will not qualify to sit for a certification examination administered 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 programs. Finally, graduating from an accredited college can make you more desirable to prospective employers in the Opelika AL job market.
What is the School's Reputation? In many states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomist schools, so there are those that are not of the highest quality. So in addition to accreditation, it's essential to check the reputations of any colleges you are considering. You can begin by requesting references from the schools from employers where they place their graduates as part of their job assistance program. You can research online school reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. You can also contact some Opelika AL clinics or hospitals that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insights. As a final thought, you can check with the Alabama school licensing authority and ask if any grievances have been filed or if the colleges are in total compliance.
Is Enough Training Provided? To begin with, check with the Alabama state regulator where you will be working 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 provide no less than 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of clinical training. Anything less than these minimums might signify that the program is not expansive enough to furnish sufficient training.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask the schools you are reviewing if they have an internship program in partnership with area healthcare facilities. They are the optimal means to obtain hands-on clinical training often not obtainable on campus. As an added benefit, internships can help students develop contacts within the local Opelika AL health care community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Finding your first phlebotomist position will be much easier with the help of a job placement program. Inquire if the schools you are considering offer assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a college has a higher rate, signifying they place most of their students in jobs, it's an indication that the college has both an excellent reputation together with an extensive network of professional contacts within the Opelika AL healthcare community.
Are Classes Available as Needed? Finally, it's crucial to make sure that the final school you choose offers classes at times that will accommodate your hectic schedule. This is especially true if you opt to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Opelika AL, check that they are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend part-time, make sure 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 ask what the make-up policy is should you have to miss any classes because of illness or emergencies.
Should You Choose a Career as a Phlebotomy Tech?
Anyone who decides to enter this profession must be comfortable with blood and needles. And if you are nervous in hospitals or other Opelika AL medical environments, well this job probably is not right for you. And then there are the patients. Phlebotomy Technicians tend to work around nervous people who hate needles or having their blood drawn. And because many medical facilities are open 24 hours, you will probably be expected 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 may be the right profession for you.
Choose the Best Opelika Phlebotomy Program
Making certain that you pick the right phlebotomist training is a critical first step toward your success in this rewarding healthcare career position. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple factors that contribute toward the selection of a premium program. Phlebotomy certificate or degree programs are offered in a variety of academic institutes, such as junior or community colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that offer a comprehensive assortment of courses in healthcare and medical sciences. Training program options may differ somewhat from state to state as every state has its own criteria when it pertains to phlebotomy training, licensing and certification. The most important point is that you need to carefully screen and compare each school before making your ultimate decision. By asking the questions that we have furnished, you will be able to fine tune your choices so that you can select the right phlebotomist school for you. And with the appropriate education, you can achieve your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Opelika Alabama.