Selecting a Phlebotomist Course in West Virginia
Picking the ideal phlebotomist school in West Virginia is a critical initial step toward a fulfilling career as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a challenging task to analyze and compare each of the school alternatives that are available to you. Nevertheless it’s necessary that you perform your due diligence to make sure that you obtain a superior education. In fact, a large number of students begin the process by considering two of the qualifiers that initially come to mind, which are location and cost. Another factor you may look into is whether to attend classes online or commute to a local campus. We’ll discuss more about online schools later in this article. What’s important to keep in mind is that there is far more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than locating the cheapest or the closest one. Other factors including reputation and accreditation are also significant considerations and need to be part of your selection process too. To assist in that effort, we will supply a list of questions that you should ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are assessing to help you choose the best one for you. But prior to doing that, let’s cover 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. Although that is their main task, there is in fact far more to their job description. Prior to drawing a blood sample, a phlebotomist has to verify that the instruments being employed are sterile and single use only. After collection, the sample must be properly labeled with the patient’s data. Afterward, paperwork must be correctly completed to be able 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 may be screened for such things as pregnancy, infectious diseases or blood type. Many West Virginia phlebotomists in fact work in labs and are accountable for making certain that samples are tested correctly using the highest quality control procedures. And if those weren’t enough responsibilities, they may be asked to instruct other phlebotomists in the collection, transport and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomy Techs Work?
The simplest answer is wherever patients are treated. Their work environments are numerous and diverse, including West Virginia hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, or blood centers. They can be assigned to draw blood samples from patients of all ages, from infants or young children to seniors. Some phlebotomy techs, depending on their training and their practice, specialize in drawing samples from a specific type of patient. For instance, those working 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 mothers and newborns solely. In contrast, phlebotomists working in a general hospital setting would be collecting samples from a wide range of patients and would work with different patients every day.
Phlebotomist Training, Licensing and Certification
There are basically two types of programs that furnish phlebotomist training in West Virginia, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program normally takes under a year to finish and furnishes a basic education as well as the training on how to draw blood. It provides the quickest route to becoming a phlebotomist. An Associate of Science Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, although not exclusively a phlebotomist degree, will include training to become a phlebotomist. Offered at community and junior colleges, they usually take 2 years to complete. Bachelor’s Degrees are not as accessible and as a four year program provide a more expansive foundation in lab sciences. Once you have finished your training, you will no doubt want to get certified. While not mandated in the majority of states, many employers require certification prior to hiring technicians. Some of the main 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 call for certification prior to practicing as a phlebotomist, including Nevada and California. California and a handful of additional states even require licensing. So it’s imperative that you choose a phlebotomy training program that not only supplies a quality education, but also prepares you for any licensing or certification exams that you are required or elect to take.
Phlebotomy Online Schools
To start with, let’s dispel one potential mistaken belief. You can’t obtain all of your phlebotomy training online. A good component of the program of studies will be clinical training and it will be conducted either in an on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. Numerous courses also require completion of an internship prior to graduation. But since the non-practical portion of the training can be attended online, it might be a more convenient option for many students. As an additional benefit, a number of online colleges are more affordable than their on-campus competitors. And some expenses, for instance those for commuting or textbooks, may be lowered as well. Just make sure that the online phlebotomy college you enroll in is accredited by a national or regional accrediting organization (more on accreditation later). With both the extensive online and clinical training, you can receive a premium education with this method of learning. If you are dedicated enough to study at home, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the best option for you.
Subjects to Ask Phlebotomist Schools
Now that you have a basic understanding about what it takes to become a phlebotomist, it’s time to start your due diligence process. You might have already picked the kind of program you intend to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we mentioned earlier, the location of the West Virginia campus is significant as well as the tuition expense. Maybe you have decided to enroll in an phlebotomist online program. All of these decisions are a critical part of the procedure 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 colleges you are considering prior to making your final decision.
Is the Phlebotomist Program Specific to state? As mentioned previously, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomist. Some states require certification, while a few others mandate licensing. Every state has its own requirement regarding the minimum amount of clinical training completed prior to working as a phlebotomy tech. As a result, you may have to pass a State Board, licensing or certification examination. Therefore it’s very important to choose a phlebotomist program that complies with the state specific requirements for West Virginia or the state where you will be practicing and readies you for all exams you may have to take.
Is the School Accredited? The phlebotomy program and school you choose should be accredited by a reputable national or regional accrediting agency, for example the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are several benefits to graduating from an accredited program aside from a guarantee of a premium education. To begin with, if your program is not accredited, you will not qualify to sit for a certification examination offered by any of the previously listed certifying organizations. Also, accreditation will help in obtaining financial aid or loans, which are typically not available for non-accredited colleges in West Virginia. Last, graduating from an accredited college can make you more attractive to prospective employers in the job market.
What is the Program’s Reputation? In a number of states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomist schools, so there are those that are not of the highest quality. So in addition to accreditation, it’s imperative to investigate the reputations of all colleges you are reviewing. You can start by asking the schools for references from employers where they refer their graduates as part of their job assistance program. You can research online school rating and review services and solicit the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. You can also contact a few West Virginia area clinics or hospitals that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insights. As a final thought, you can contact the West Virginia school licensing authority and ask if any complaints have been filed or if the schools are in total compliance.
Is Adequate Training Provided? First, check with the West Virginia 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 reviewing should provide no less than 40 hours of classroom training (the majority require 120) and 120 hours of clinical training. Anything below these minimums may signify that the program is not comprehensive enough to provide adequate training.
Are Internships Included? Find out from the West Virginia programs you are reviewing if they have an internship program in collaboration with regional healthcare facilities. They are the ideal means to get hands-on practical training often not obtainable on campus. As an added benefit, internships can help students establish relationships within the local West Virginia health care community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing your first phlebotomy position will be a lot easier with the help of a job placement program. Ask if the schools you are looking at offer assistance and what their job placement percentage is. If a school has a high rate, signifying they place most of their students in positions, it’s an indication that the college has both an excellent reputation together with a substantial network of professional contacts within the West Virginia health care community.
Are Classes Conveniently Scheduled? Finally, it’s important to confirm that the final program you pick provides classes at times that will accommodate your busy lifestyle. This is particularly true if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends in West Virginia, make sure they are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend part-time, verify it is an option as well. Even if you have decided to study online, with the clinical training requirement, make sure those hours can also be fulfilled within your schedule. And find out what the make-up policy is in case you need to miss any classes due to emergencies or illness.
Choose the Ideal Phlebotomist College in West Virginia
Making sure that you pick the right phlebotomist training is an important first step toward your success in this rewarding medical care field. As we have discussed in this article, there are multiple factors that go into the selection of a premium college. Phlebotomy training programs can be offered in a variety of academic institutes, such as junior or community colleges, trade schools, and colleges and universities that offer a wide array of programs in medical care and health sciences. Training program options can differ a bit from state to state as every state has its own prerequisites when it pertains to phlebotomist training, licensing and certification. The most important point is that you must diligently research and compare each program prior to making your final selection. By asking the questions that we have provided, you will be able to narrow down your options so that you can pick the best college for you. And with the appropriate training, you can achieve your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in West Virginia.