Picking a Phlebotomy School in Alabama
Selecting the ideal phlebotomy school in Alabama is an essential initial step toward a rewarding career as a phlebotomist. It might seem like a challenging task to investigate and compare each of the training options that are accessible to you. Nevertheless it’s important that you complete your due diligence to ensure that you obtain a superior education. In fact, most students begin the process by considering two of the qualifiers that initially come to mind, which are location and cost. Another option you might look into is whether to attend online classes or commute to a local campus. We’ll talk a bit more about online classes later in this article. What’s important to remember is that there is much more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than locating the cheapest or the closest one. Other factors including accreditation and reputation are also significant considerations and must be part of your selection process as well. 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 pick 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 schools.
Phlebotomist Work Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, draws blood from patients. Although that is their primary duty, there is actually so much more to their job description. Before drawing a blood sample, a phlebotomist needs to confirm that the instruments being used are sterile and single use only. After collection, the sample has to be properly labeled with the patient’s information. Afterward, paperwork needs to be correctly filled out to be able to track the sample from the time of collection through the lab screening process. The phlebotomist then transports the blood to either an an outside lab facility or an in-house lab where it may be screened for such things as pregnancy, infectious diseases or blood type. Many Alabama phlebotomists in fact work in laboratories and are in charge of ensuring that samples are analyzed properly utilizing the highest quality assurance procedures. And if those weren’t sufficient duties, they might be asked to instruct other phlebotomists in the drawing, delivery and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomy Techs Work?
The simplest response is wherever there are patients. Their workplaces are many and diverse, including Alabama medical clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, or blood banks. They can be tasked to draw blood samples from patients of of every age, from infants or toddlers to seniors. Some phlebotomy techs, based on their practice and their training, specialize in collecting blood from a specific type of patient. For example, those working in an assisted living facility or nursing home would solely be collecting blood from senior patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from newborns and mothers exclusively. On the other hand, phlebotomy technicians working in a general hospital environment would be collecting samples from a wide variety of patients and would work with new patients every day.
Phlebotomy Technician Training, Certification and Licensing
There are primarily 2 types of programs that offer phlebotomist training in Alabama, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program typically takes under a year to complete and offers a general education as well as the training on how to draw blood. It provides the fastest route to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, even though it’s not exclusively a phlebotomist degree, will incorporate training to become a phlebotomy tech. Available at community and junior colleges, they typically take two years to complete. Bachelor’s Degrees are not as accessible and as a 4 year program furnish a more extensive background in lab sciences. When you have finished your training, you will probably want to get certified. While not required in most states, most employers require certification before hiring technicians. Some 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 several states that do require certification prior to practicing as a phlebotomist, including Nevada and California. California and a few additional states even require licensing. So it’s essential that you enroll in a phlebotomy training program that not only offers a premium education, but also prepares you for any licensing or certification examinations that you are required or elect to take.
Phlebotomy Online Certificates and Degrees
To begin with, let’s resolve one possible misconception. You can’t obtain all of your phlebotomy training online. A substantial portion of the curriculum 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 completing an internship prior to graduation. However since the non-practical portion of the training can be attended online, it can be a more practical option for some students. As an added benefit, some online programs are more affordable than their traditional counterparts. And some expenditures, for instance those for textbooks or commuting, may be reduced also. Just make certain that the online phlebotomy school you choose is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). With both the comprehensive online and clinical training, you can receive a superior education with this approach to learning. If you are disciplined enough to learn at home, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the best option for you.
Points to Ask Phlebotomy Schools
Now that you have a general idea about what it takes to become a phlebotomy tech, it’s time to initiate 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 mentioned earlier, the location of the Alabama school is relevant in addition to the tuition expense. Possibly you have opted to enroll in an online phlebotomy school. All of these decisions are a critical component of the process for choosing a program or school. But they are not the sole concerns when making your decision. Below we have provided several questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are looking at before making your final selection.
Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to Your State? As mentioned previously, each state has its own regulations for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Some states require certification, while some others mandate licensing. Every state has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum amount of clinical training completed before practicing as a phlebotomy tech. Consequently, you might need to pass a State Board, licensing or certification examination. Therefore it’s extremely important to enroll in a phlebotomist program that meets the state specific requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working and preps you for any examinations you may be required to take.
Is the Program Accredited? The phlebotomy school and program you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded regional or national accrediting agency, for example the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are several advantages to graduating from an accredited program aside from an assurance of a premium education. To begin with, if your program is not accredited, you will not be able to take a certification exam administered by any of the previously listed certifying organizations. Next, accreditation will help in getting financial aid or loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited colleges in Alabama. Finally, graduating from an accredited college can make you more attractive to potential employers in the job market.
What is the College’s Reputation? In many states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomy schools, so there are those that are not of the highest quality. So in addition to accreditation, it’s important to check the reputations of all schools you are considering. You can begin by asking the schools for references 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 as well. You can even talk to several Alabama area clinics or hospitals that you may have an interest in working for and find out if they can offer any recommendations. As a closing thought, you can contact the Alabama school licensing authority and ask if any complaints have been submitted or if the colleges are in full compliance.
Is Ample Training Provided? First, check with the Alabama regulator or the 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 looking at should provide no less than 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of practical training. Anything lower than these minimums may signify that the program is not comprehensive enough to provide sufficient training.
Are Internship Programs Included? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are reviewing if they have an internship program in partnership with local healthcare facilities. They are the optimal means to get hands-on clinical training frequently not available on campus. As an added benefit, internships can help students develop contacts within the local Alabama healthcare community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding your first phlebotomy job will be a lot easier with the support of a job placement program. Find out if the programs you are looking at 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 program has both a good reputation along with a large network of professional contacts within the Alabama medical community.
Are Classes Compatible With Your Schedule? Finally, it’s important to verify that the ultimate program you choose offers classes at times that will accommodate your busy lifestyle. This is particularly important if you choose to still work while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Alabama, 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 practical training requirement, make sure those hours can also be completed within your schedule. And ask what the make-up protocol is should you have to miss any classes due to emergencies or illness.
Choose the Ideal Phlebotomy College in Alabama
Making certain that you pick the right phlebotomist training is an essential first step toward your success in this gratifying medical care career position. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that contribute toward the selection of a quality school. Phlebotomist certificate or degree programs can be offered in a variety of academic institutions, such as junior or community colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that offer an extensive range of programs in healthcare and medical sciences. Training program options may differ slightly across the country as every state has its own criteria when it pertains to phlebotomy training, licensing and certification. The most critical point is that you need to carefully screen and compare each college before making your ultimate choice. By addressing the questions that we have presented, you will be able to fine tune your options so that you can pick the ideal program for you. And with the proper training, you can achieve your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Alabama.