Selecting a Phlebotomy Training Program in Maryland
Enrolling in the ideal phlebotomy training in Maryland is an important first step toward a gratifying profession as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a daunting undertaking to evaluate and compare all of the school options that are available to you. Nevertheless it’s important that you perform your due diligence to make certain that you receive a superior education. In fact, most prospective students begin the process by considering 2 of the qualifiers that initially come to mind, which are location and cost. Yet another factor 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’s important to keep in mind is that there is much more to checking out phlebotomy training programs than locating the closest or the cheapest one. Other variables including accreditation and reputation are also important considerations and should be part of your decision process as well. Toward that end, we will supply a list of questions that you should ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are assessing to help you select the right one for you. But prior to doing that, let’s address what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards resume our conversation about online schools.
Phlebotomist Job Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy tech, draws blood from patients. While that is their main task, there is actually so much more to their job description. Prior to collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist needs to check that the tools being employed are sterile and single use only. After collection, the sample has to be properly labeled with the patient’s information. Next, paperwork must be correctly filled out to be able to track the sample from the time of collection through the laboratory screening process. The phlebotomist then delivers 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. Some Maryland phlebotomists actually work in laboratories and are accountable for ensuring that samples are tested properly using the highest quality assurance procedures. And if those weren’t sufficient duties, they may be required to train other phlebotomists in the drawing, delivery and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomy Techs Practice?
The simplest response is wherever there are patients. Their workplaces are numerous and diverse, such as Maryland medical clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, or blood banks. They may be tasked to collect blood samples from patients of of every age, from babies or toddlers to senior citizens. A number of phlebotomy techs, based on their training and their practice, specialize in drawing blood from a certain kind of patient. For example, those practicing 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 drawing blood from newborns and mothers solely. On the other hand, phlebotomists working in a general hospital environment would be collecting blood from a wide variety of patients and would collect samples from different patients on a daily basis.
Phlebotomist Training, Certification and Licensing
There are primarily two kinds of programs that provide phlebotomist training in Maryland, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program typically takes less than a year to complete and provides a general education along with the training on how to draw blood. It offers the fastest method to becoming a phlebotomy tech. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, although not specifically a phlebotomist degree, will provide training to become a phlebotomist. Offered at community and junior colleges, they normally require 2 years to finish. Bachelor’s Degrees are less available and as a four year program offer a more expansive foundation in lab sciences. Once you have completed your training, you will probably want to get certified. Although not mandated in most states, a number of employers require certification prior to hiring technicians. Some of the key 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 call for certification in order to practice as a phlebotomy tech, such as California and Nevada. California and a few additional states even require licensing. So it’s essential that you choose a phlebotomist training program that not only supplies a premium education, but also prepares you for any licensing or certification exams that you are required or elect to take.
Online Phlebotomy Certificates and Degrees
To start with, let’s resolve one potential mistaken belief. You can’t get all of your phlebotomy training online. A significant component of the course of study will be clinical training and it will be conducted either in an approved Maryland healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. Many courses also require completion of an internship prior to graduation. However since the non-clinical component of the training may be attended online, it could be a more practical option for some students. As an added benefit, many online classes are less expensive than their on-campus counterparts. And some expenditures, such as those for commuting or textbooks, may be lowered as well. Just make sure that the online phlebotomy program you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). With both the comprehensive online and clinical training, you can obtain a superior education with this method of learning. If you are disciplined enough to study at home, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Phlebotomist Colleges
Since you now have a basic idea about what it takes to become a phlebotomy tech, it’s time to begin your due diligence process. You might have already decided on the kind of program you intend to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we previously mentioned, the location of the Maryland school is relevant in addition to the tuition expense. Possibly you have decided to enroll in an phlebotomy online program. All of these decisions are a critical component of the process for picking a program or school. But they are not the sole concerns when arriving at your decision. Below we have provided some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to state? As earlier discussed, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Some states call for certification, while a few others mandate licensing. Every state has its own requirement regarding the minimum amount of practical training completed before working as a phlebotomy tech. As a result, you might have to pass a State Board, licensing or certification exam. Therefore it’s extremely important to enroll in a phlebotomy program that fulfills the state specific requirements for Maryland or the state where you will be working and preps you for all exams you may have to take.
Is the School Accredited? The phlebotomist school and program you select should be accredited by a respected 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 quality education. First, if your program is not accredited, you will not qualify to take a certification examination offered by any of the earlier listed certifying agencies. Also, accreditation will help in securing loans or financial assistance, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools in Maryland. Finally, graduating from an accredited school can make you more desirable to future employers in the job market.
What is the Program’s Reputation? In a number of states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomist colleges, so there are some that are not of the highest caliber. So along with accreditation, it’s imperative to check the reputations of all schools you are looking at. You can start by asking the schools for references from employers where they place their graduates as part of their job assistance program. You can screen internet school reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. You can also contact some Maryland area clinics or hospitals that you might be interested in working for and find out if they can provide any insights. As a closing thought, you can contact the Maryland school licensing authority and find out if any complaints have been filed or if the schools are in full compliance.
Is Adequate Training Included? First, check with the Maryland regulator or the state regulator where you will be practicing to find out if there are any minimum requirements for the length of training, both classroom and practical. As a minimum, any phlebotomy program that you are reviewing should provide at least 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of clinical training. Anything less than these minimums may indicate that the program is not comprehensive enough to furnish sufficient training.
Are Internships Provided? Ask the Maryland colleges you are reviewing if they have an internship program in collaboration with local healthcare facilities. They are the optimal way to obtain hands-on practical training frequently not obtainable on campus. As an additional benefit, internships can help students develop contacts within the local Maryland health care community. And they are a plus on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding your first phlebotomist position will be much easier with the help of a job placement program. Ask if the colleges you are looking at 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 positions, it’s an indication that the program has both an excellent reputation along with a substantial network of professional contacts within the Maryland medical community.
Are Class Times Conveniently Scheduled? Finally, it’s critical to make sure that the final program you select offers classes at times that are compatible with your busy schedule. This is especially true if you choose to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends in Maryland, make sure they are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure it is an option also. Even if you have decided to attend online, with the clinical training requirement, make sure those hours can also be completed within your schedule. And ask what the make-up policy is should you need to miss any classes because of illness or emergencies.
Find the Right Phlebotomist College in Maryland
Making sure that you enroll in the right phlebotomist training is an essential first step toward your success in this fulfilling healthcare career position. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that go into the selection of a superior college. Phlebotomist certificate or degree programs are available in a number of academic institutions, including junior or community colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that provide a wide range of courses in medical care and health sciences. Course offerings may differ somewhat across the country as every state has its own criteria when it concerns phlebotomist training, certification and licensing. The most important point is that you need to carefully research and compare each program prior to making your final selection. By asking the questions that we have presented, you will be able to narrow down your options so that you can pick the best school for you. And with the proper training, you can realize your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Maryland.