Selecting a Phlebotomist Course in Virginia
Enrolling in the right phlebotomist training in Virginia is a critical first step toward a fulfilling profession as a phlebotomist. It might seem like a challenging task to analyze and compare all of the training alternatives that are available to you. Nevertheless it’s vital that you perform your due diligence to make certain that you get a quality education. In fact, a large number of students start their search by considering two of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are cost and location. Another factor you may look into is whether to attend online classes or commute to a nearby 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 finding the cheapest or the closest one. Other factors such as accreditation and reputation 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 need to ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are reviewing to help you choose the best one for you. But prior to doing that, let’s cover what a phlebotomist is and does, and then continue our conversation about online training.
Phlebotomy Tech Job Description
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, collects blood samples from patients. While that is their main function, there is in fact much more to their job description. Prior to collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist must verify that the instruments being used are single use only and sterile. Following the collection, the sample needs to be correctly labeled with the patient’s information. Next, paperwork needs to be correctly completed in order to track the sample from the time of collection through the laboratory screening procedure. The phlebotomist then transports the blood to either an in-house lab or to an outside lab facility where it may be tested for such things as infectious diseases, pregnancy or blood type. Some Virginia phlebotomists in fact work in laboratories and are responsible for ensuring that samples are analyzed correctly utilizing the highest quality control procedures. And if those weren’t sufficient responsibilities, they can be required to train other phlebotomists in the collection, delivery and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomists Practice?
The most basic response is wherever they treat patients. Their work places are numerous and diverse, such as Virginia hospitals, medical clinics, long-term care facilities, or blood centers. They may be assigned to draw blood samples from patients of all ages, from babies or young children to seniors. A number of phlebotomy techs, based on their training and their practice, specialize in drawing samples from a specific kind of patient. For instance, those practicing in a nursing home or assisted living facility would solely be collecting blood from elderly patients. If they are practicing in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from newborns and mothers exclusively. In contrast, phlebotomy technicians practicing in a general hospital setting would be drawing samples from a wide variety of patients and would work with different patients every day.
Phlebotomy Technician Education, Certification and Licensing
There are primarily two types of programs that offer phlebotomist training in Virginia, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program typically takes under a year to complete and offers a basic education together with the training on how to draw blood. It offers the fastest means to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, even though it’s not exclusively a phlebotomist degree, will provide training to become a phlebotomy tech. Offered at junior and community colleges, they normally require two years to complete. Bachelor’s Degrees are less accessible and as a 4 year program furnish a more expansive background in lab sciences. After you have completed your training, you will no doubt want to get certified. Although not mandated in the majority of states, most employers look for 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 some states that do require certification prior to practicing as a phlebotomy tech, like California and Nevada. California and a handful of additional states even require licensing. So it’s essential that you enroll in a phlebotomist training program that not only provides a superior education, but also preps you for any licensing or certification exams that you elect or are required to take.
Online Phlebotomy Certificates and Degrees
First, let’s dispel one likely mistaken belief. You can’t get all of your phlebotomist training online. A significant part of the curriculum will be practical training and it will be conducted either in an approved Virginia healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. Many courses also require completing an internship prior to graduation. But since the non-practical part of the training may be accessed online, it may be a more practical alternative for some students. As an added benefit, many online schools are more affordable than their traditional competitors. And some expenditures, such as those for commuting or textbooks, may be minimized also. Just verify that the online phlebotomy college you enroll in is accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). With both the comprehensive clinical and online training, you can receive a premium education with this means of learning. If you are dedicated enough to study at home, then attaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Phlebotomy Programs
Since you now have a basic understanding about what it takes to become a phlebotomy tech, it’s time to start your due diligence process. You may have already selected the type of program you intend to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the Virginia school is significant in addition to the tuition expense. Possibly you have opted to enroll in an online phlebotomy school. Each of these decisions are a critical part of the process for choosing 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 looking at before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Phlebotomist Program State Specific? As mentioned previously, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomist. Several states call for certification, while a few others mandate licensing. Each has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum amount of clinical training performed prior to practicing as a phlebotomist. Consequently, you might have to pass a State Board, licensing or certification examination. Therefore it’s extremely important to enroll in a phlebotomist program that complies with the state specific requirements for Virginia or the state where you will be practicing and prepares you for all examinations you may have to take.
Is the Program Accredited? The phlebotomist program and school you enroll in should be accredited by a respected regional or national accrediting organization, for example the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are several advantages to graduating from an accredited program in addition to a guarantee of a premium education. First, 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. Next, accreditation will help in securing financial aid or loans, which are typically unavailable for non-accredited schools in Virginia. Last, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited school can make you more desirable to potential employers in the job market.
What is the Program’s Ranking? In numerous states there is little 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 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 screen internet school rating and review services and solicit the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. You can even talk to some Virginia area hospitals or clinics that you might have an interest in working for and find out if they can provide any insights. As a closing thought, you can contact the Virginia school licensing authority and find out if any complaints have been submitted or if the colleges are in full compliance.
Is Ample Training Provided? First, check with the Virginia regulator or the state regulator where you will be practicing 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 no less than 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of practical training. Anything less than these minimums might indicate that the program is not comprehensive enough to provide sufficient training.
Are Internships Included? Find out from the Virginia programs you are reviewing if they have an internship program in collaboration with local medical facilities. They are the optimal way to get hands-on clinical training typically not obtainable on campus. As an added benefit, internships can assist students establish relationships within the local Virginia healthcare community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Available? Getting your first phlebotomy job will be much easier with the support of a job placement program. Inquire if the programs you are looking at provide assistance and what their job placement percentage is. If a college has a high rate, signifying they place the majority of their students in positions, it’s an indication that the school has both a good reputation along with a large network of professional contacts within the Virginia medical community.
Are Class Times Conveniently Scheduled? Finally, it’s crucial to make sure that the ultimate college you pick offers classes at times that are compatible with your busy lifestyle. This is particularly true if you choose to continue working while attending college. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Virginia, make certain they are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend part-time, make sure it is an option as well. Even if you have decided to study online, with the practical training requirement, make sure those hours can also be fulfilled within your schedule. And find out what the make-up protocol is should you have to miss any classes as a result of emergencies or illness.
Find the Right Phlebotomy School in Virginia
Making sure that you select the ideal phlebotomy training is an essential first step toward your success in this gratifying health care career position. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple factors that go into the selection of a quality program. Phlebotomy training programs can be found in a variety of academic institutions, such as community or junior colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that provide an extensive range of programs in healthcare and medical sciences. Course options may differ slightly across the country as every state has its own requirements when it comes to phlebotomy training, licensing and certification. The most important point is that you must thoroughly evaluate and compare each program before making your final decision. By asking the questions that we have provided, you will be able to narrow down your choices so that you can select the ideal program for you. And with the appropriate education, you can reach your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Virginia.