Selecting a Phlebotomist School in Washington
Picking the right phlebotomist training in Washington is an important first step toward a fulfilling profession as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a daunting undertaking to assess and compare each of the training options that are accessible to you. However it’s necessary that you complete your due diligence to make certain that you receive a superior education. In fact, many prospective students begin their search by looking at 2 of the qualifiers that initially come to mind, which are location and cost. An additional factor you might look into is whether to attend classes online or commute to an area campus. We’ll talk a bit more about online classes later in this article. What you need to remember is that there is a lot more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than locating the closest or the cheapest one. Other variables such as reputation and accreditation are also significant considerations and should be part of your selection process as well. Toward that end, we will provide a list of questions that you should ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are reviewing to help you pick the ideal one for you. But before we do that, let’s address what a phlebotomist is and does, and then continue our conversation about online training.
Phlebotomy Tech Work Description
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, draws blood from patients. While that is their primary duty, there is in fact far more to their job description. Before drawing a blood sample, a phlebotomist must verify that the instruments being used are sterile and single use only. Following the collection, the sample needs to be correctly labeled with the patient’s information. Afterward, paperwork needs to be accurately filled out to be able to track the sample from the point of collection through the lab screening process. The phlebotomist then transports the blood to either an in-house lab or to an outside lab facility where it may be screened for such things as pregnancy, infectious diseases or blood type. Many Washington phlebotomists actually work in laboratories and are responsible for making certain that samples are analyzed properly using the strictest quality control procedures. And if those weren’t sufficient responsibilities, they can be required to instruct other phlebotomists in the drawing, delivery and follow-up process.
Where are Phlebotomists Employed?
The easiest response is wherever there are patients. Their work places are many and varied, such as Washington hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, or blood centers. They may be assigned to collect blood samples from patients of all ages, from babies or young children to seniors. A number of phlebotomists, depending on their practice and their training, specialize in collecting blood from a particular kind of patient. For instance, those practicing in an assisted living facility or nursing home 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, phlebotomists practicing in a general hospital setting would be collecting samples from a wide range of patients and would work with different patients on a daily basis.
Phlebotomy Technician Education, Certification and Licensing
There are primarily two kinds of programs that offer phlebotomist training in Washington, which are degree and certificate programs. The certificate program typically takes less than a year to finish and provides a basic education together with the training on how to draw blood. It offers the fastest route to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, although not specifically a phlebotomist degree, will provide training to become a phlebotomy tech. Available at junior and community colleges, they usually take 2 years to finish. Bachelor’s Degrees are less available and as a 4 year program furnish a more extensive background in lab sciences. When you have completed your training, you will no doubt want to be certified. Although not mandated in most states, many 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 call for certification prior to practicing as a phlebotomy tech, like Nevada and California. California and a handful of other states even require licensing. So it’s important that you pick a phlebotomy training program that not only furnishes a premium education, but also preps you for any certification or licensing examinations that you are required or elect to take.
Online Phlebotomist Colleges
To begin with, let’s resolve one potential mistaken belief. You can’t obtain all of your phlebotomy training online. A good part of the curriculum will be practical training and it will be conducted either in an on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. Many courses also require completing an internship prior to graduation. However since the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed online, it could be a more practical alternative for some students. As an additional benefit, many online programs are more affordable than their on-campus competitors. And some expenditures, including those for textbooks or commuting, may be lowered also. 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 comprehensive online and clinical training, you can obtain a premium education with this means of learning. If you are dedicated enough to study at home, then attaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Phlebotomist Schools
Since you now have a general idea about what is involved in becoming a phlebotomist, it’s time to begin your due diligence process. You may have already decided on the kind of program you intend to enroll in, whether it be for a certificate or a degree. As we previously mentioned, the location of the Washington college is significant in addition to the tuition expense. Perhaps you have opted to enroll in an online phlebotomy program. Each of these decisions are a critical component of the process for selecting a school or program. But they are not the only concerns when making your decision. Following are several questions that you need to ask about each of the colleges you are reviewing before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to state? As earlier discussed, each state has its own requirements for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Several states call for certification, while a few others require licensing. Each has its own requirement regarding the minimum amount of practical training completed before working as a phlebotomy tech. As a result, you may need to pass a State Board, certification or licensing exam. Therefore it’s extremely important to select a phlebotomy program that meets the state specific requirements for Washington or the state where you will be practicing and readies you for any examinations you may be required to take.
Is the College Accredited? The phlebotomist school and program you choose should be accredited by a recognized national or regional accrediting agency, for example the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are a number of benefits to graduating from an accredited school in addition to an assurance of a premium education. First, if your program has not received accreditation, you will not qualify to take a certification exam offered by any of the earlier listed certifying agencies. Also, accreditation will help in getting financial aid or loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools in Washington. Last, graduating from an accredited college can make you more attractive to potential employers in the job market.
What is the College’s Ranking? In many states there is little or no regulation of phlebotomist schools, so there are those that are not of the highest caliber. So along with accreditation, it’s imperative to investigate the reputations of any colleges you are looking at. You can start by requesting references from the schools from employers where they place their students as part of their job assistance program. You can research internet school reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. You can even check with several Washington area clinics or hospitals that you may have an interest in working for and see if they can offer any insights. As a closing thought, you can contact the Washington school licensing authority and find out if any grievances have been submitted or if the schools are in full compliance.
Is Enough Training Included? To begin with, contact the Washington regulator or the state regulator where you will be practicing 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 furnish no less than 40 hours of classroom training (most require 120) and 120 hours of clinical training. Anything less than these minimums might indicate that the program is not comprehensive enough to furnish adequate training.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out from the Washington schools you are looking at if they have an internship program in collaboration with local health care facilities. They are the optimal means to get hands-on practical training frequently not obtainable on campus. As an added benefit, internships can assist students establish contacts within the local Washington healthcare community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding your first phlebotomist position will be a lot easier with the assistance of a job placement program. Ask if the schools you are looking at offer assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a school has a higher rate, meaning they place most of their students in positions, it’s an indication that the program has both an excellent reputation together with an extensive network of professional contacts within the Washington medical community.
Are Classes Offered to Fit Your Schedule? Finally, it’s important to verify that the final program you select provides classes at times that are compatible with your hectic lifestyle. This is particularly important if you decide to still work while going to college. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Washington, check that they are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend part-time, confirm it is an option also. And if you have decided to study online, with the clinical training requirement, make certain those hours can also be completed within your schedule. And ask what the make-up protocol is should you have to miss any classes because of illness or emergencies.
Choose the Right Phlebotomist Program in Washington
Making sure that you select the most suitable phlebotomy training is an important first step toward your success in this rewarding healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that go into the selection of a superior school. Phlebotomy certificate or degree programs can be offered in a number of educational institutes, including junior or community colleges, trade schools, and colleges and universities that offer an extensive range of programs in healthcare and medical sciences. Program options can vary a bit across the country as each state has its own mandates when it comes to phlebotomist training, licensing and certification. The most important point is that you need to diligently research and compare each program prior to 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 pick the best college for you. And with the proper training, you can achieve your goal of becoming a phlebotomist in Washington.