How to Pick the Best Phlebotomist School near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Picking the ideal phlebotomy training near Vestavia Hills AL is an essential first step toward a fulfilling profession as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a difficult undertaking to investigate and compare each of the school alternatives that are available to you. Nevertheless it's important that you complete your due diligence to make sure that you obtain a superior education. In fact, many students begin their search by looking at 2 of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are cost and location. An additional factor you might consider 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's important to remember is that there is far more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than finding the cheapest or the closest one. Other factors including accreditation and reputation are also important considerations and must be part of your selection process also. 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 select the right one for you. But before we do that, let's address what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards resume our discussion about online training.
Phlebotomy Technician Career Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy tech, draws blood from patients. Although that is their main responsibility, there is in fact much more to their job description. Prior to drawing a blood sample, a phlebotomist must confirm that the instruments being employed are single use only and sterile. After collection, the sample has to be properly labeled with the patient's information. Afterward, paperwork must be accurately completed in order to track the sample from the point of collection through the lab screening 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. A number of phlebotomists in fact work in Vestavia Hills AL laboratories and are in charge of making sure that samples are analyzed properly utilizing the strictest quality control procedures. And if those weren't sufficient duties, they might be required to train other phlebotomists in the drawing, transport and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomy Techs Practice?The easiest answer is wherever they treat patients. Their work places are many and varied, including Vestavia Hills AL medical clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, or blood banks. They may be tasked to collect blood samples from patients of all ages, from babies or toddlers to seniors. Some phlebotomists, depending on their practice and their training, specialize in collecting blood from a specific 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 mothers and newborns solely. In contrast, phlebotomists working in a general hospital environment would be drawing samples from a wide range of patients and would collect samples from different patients on a daily basis.
Phlebotomist Training, Certification and Licensing
There are primarily two types of programs that provide phlebotomy training, which are degree and certificate programs. The certificate program generally takes under a year to complete and offers a general 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, even though it's not exclusively a phlebotomist degree, will include training on becoming a phlebotomy tech. Available at junior and community colleges, they typically require 2 years to finish. Bachelor's Degrees are not as accessible and as a four year program provide a more comprehensive background in lab sciences. When you have finished your training, you will no doubt want to get certified. While not required in the majority of states, many Vestavia Hills AL employers require certification before employing technicians. A few of the principal 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 call for certification prior to practicing as a phlebotomist, including California and Nevada. California and a handful of additional states even require licensing. So it's imperative that you pick a phlebotomy training program that not only offers a quality education, but also prepares you for any licensing or certification examinations that you are required or elect to take.
Online Phlebotomy Certificates and Degrees
To start with, let's resolve one possible misconception. You can't receive all of your phlebotomy training online. A significant component of the curriculum will be practical training and it will be performed either in an approved healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. Many courses also require completion of an internship prior to graduation. However since the non-practical component of the training may be accessed online, it could be a more convenient option for some Vestavia Hills AL students. As an added benefit, some online classes are less expensive than their traditional competitors. And some expenditures, such as those for commuting or textbooks, may be lessened as well. Just verify that the online phlebotomy program you choose is accredited by a national or regional accrediting organization (more on accreditation to follow). With both the extensive clinical and online training, you can receive a quality education with this method of learning. If you are dedicated enough to study at home, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Phlebotomy Courses
Now that you have a basic understanding about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomist, it's time to begin your due diligence process. You may have already selected 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 Vestavia Hills AL in addition to the cost of tuition. Possibly you have decided to enroll in an accredited phlebotomist online school. Each of these decisions are an important component of the process for picking a phlebotomy program or school. But they are not the sole concerns when arriving at your decision. Below we have provided a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are looking at before making your final selection.
Is the Phlebotomist Program Specific to Your State? As earlier discussed, each state has its own regulations for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Several states call for certification, while a few others mandate licensing. Each has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum hours of practical training performed before practicing as a phlebotomist. As a result, you might need to pass a State Board, licensing or certification exam. Therefore it's extremely important to select a phlebotomy program that meets the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing and preps you for all examinations you may be required to take.
Is the College Accredited? The phlebotomy program and school you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized regional or national accrediting agency, such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are several benefits to graduating from an accredited school aside from an assurance of a premium education. First, if your program has not received accreditation, you will not qualify to take a certification examination administered by any of the previously listed certifying organizations. Next, accreditation will help in securing financial aid or loans, which are typically unavailable for non-accredited colleges. Last, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited school can make you more desirable to future employers in the Vestavia Hills AL job market.
What is the College's Reputation? In many states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomy schools, so there are some that are not of the highest quality. So in addition to accreditation, it's essential to check the reputations of all colleges you are looking at. You can begin by requesting references from the schools from employers where they refer their students as part of their job placement program. You can research internet school reviews and rating services and solicit the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. You can also check with some Vestavia Hills 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 check with the Alabama school licensing authority and ask if any complaints have been filed or if the schools are in full compliance.
Is Ample Training Provided? To begin with, check with the Alabama state regulator where you will be working to find out if there are any minimum requirements for the amount of training, both clinical and classroom. As 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 less than these minimums might indicate that the program is not expansive enough to offer adequate training.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask the programs you are reviewing if they have an internship program in partnership with regional medical facilities. They are the ideal means to obtain hands-on practical training often not obtainable on campus. As an additional benefit, internships can help students develop contacts within the local Vestavia Hills AL health care community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding your first phlebotomist job will be a lot easier with the help of a job placement program. Find out if the schools you are looking at offer assistance and what their job placement percentage is. If a college has a high rate, meaning they place most of their students in jobs, it's an indication that the school has both a good reputation as well as a large network of professional contacts within the Vestavia Hills AL healthcare community.
Are Classes Offered to Fit Your Schedule? Finally, it's critical to make sure that the ultimate program you choose provides classes at times that will accommodate your active lifestyle. This is especially true if you opt to still work while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, check that they are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify it is an option also. Even if you have decided to study online, with the clinical training requirement, make certain those hours can also be fulfilled within your schedule. And find out what the make-up procedure is should you have to miss any classes as a result of illness or emergencies.
Should You Become a Plebotomist?
Anyone who selects this profession must be OK around needles and blood. And if you are nervous in hospitals or other Vestavia Hills AL medical environments, well this profession may not be right for you. And then there are the patients. Phlebotomy Techs tend to work around anxious people who don’t like needles or having their blood drawn. And because most health care 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 helping people and are patient and compassionate, this could be the perfect profession for you.
Choose the Right Vestavia Hills Phlebotomy Program
Making sure that you enroll in the right phlebotomist training is an important first step toward your success in this gratifying healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that contribute toward the selection of a superior school. Phlebotomist certificate or degree programs are available in a variety of academic institutions, including community or junior colleges, trade schools, and colleges and universities that offer an extensive array of courses in medical care and health sciences. Course offerings can vary somewhat across the country as every state has its own requirements when it concerns phlebotomist training, certification and licensing. The most important point is that you need to carefully evaluate and compare each college prior to making your final selection. By addressing the questions that we have provided, you will be able to narrow down your options so that you can pick the best phlebotomy school for you. And with the proper education, you can realize your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Vestavia Hills Alabama.