Picking a Phlebotomy School in Alaska
Enrolling in the right phlebotomy technician school in Alaska is a critical first step toward a gratifying career as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a daunting task to analyze and compare all of the training options that are available to you. However it’s important that you do your due diligence to make certain that you get a superior education. In fact, many potential students begin the process by looking at 2 of the qualifiers that initially come to mind, which are location and cost. An additional option you might consider is whether to attend classes online or commute to a nearby campus. We’ll discuss more about online classes later in this article. What you need to keep in mind is that there is much more to comparing phlebotomy training programs than finding 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. Toward that end, we will furnish a list of questions that you need to ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are evaluating to help you choose the ideal one for you. But prior to doing that, let’s address what a phlebotomist is and does, and then continue our conversation about online schools.
Phlebotomist Career Summary
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, draws blood from patients. Although that is their primary task, there is actually far more to their job description. Prior to collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist has to verify that the instruments being utilized are sterile and single use only. After collection, the sample needs to be correctly labeled with the patient’s data. Next, paperwork needs to be accurately completed in order to track the sample from the time of collection through the lab testing procedure. The phlebotomist then transports the blood to either an an outside lab facility or an in-house lab where it may be tested for such things as pregnancy, infectious diseases or blood type. A number of Alaska phlebotomists actually work in laboratories and are responsible for making certain that samples are analyzed correctly under the strictest quality control procedures. And if those weren’t sufficient responsibilities, they might be required to train other phlebotomists in the drawing, delivery and follow-up process.
Where do Phlebotomists Practice?
The most basic answer is wherever patients are treated. Their work places are numerous and diverse, including Alaska hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, or blood centers. They can be tasked to draw blood samples from patients of of every age, from infants or young children to seniors. Some phlebotomy techs, depending on their practice and their training, specialize in drawing blood from a particular type of patient. For example, those practicing in a nursing home or assisted living facility would solely be collecting blood from older patients. If they are practicing in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from newborns and mothers exclusively. On the other hand, phlebotomy technicians practicing in a general hospital setting would be drawing blood from a wide range of patients and would collect samples from different patients each day.
Phlebotomist Education, Licensing and Certification
There are essentially two kinds of programs that provide phlebotomy training in Alaska, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program normally takes less than a year to complete and furnishes a general education together 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 exclusively a phlebotomist degree, will provide training on becoming a phlebotomist. Available at community and junior colleges, they normally require two years to complete. Bachelor’s Degrees are less available and as a 4 year program offer a more expansive background in lab sciences. Once you have finished your training, you will probably want to become certified. Although not mandated in most states, many employers look for certification prior to employing 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 some states that do require certification prior to practicing as a phlebotomy tech, like Nevada and California. California and a handful of additional states even require licensing. So it’s imperative that you pick a phlebotomy 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 Phlebotomist Classes
First, let’s resolve 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 on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. Many courses also require completing an internship prior to graduation. However since the non-practical component of the training can be accessed online, it might be a more practical option for some students. As an additional benefit, some online programs are less expensive than their traditional counterparts. And some costs, such as those for commuting or textbooks, may be lowered also. Just verify that the online phlebotomy program you enroll in is accredited by a national or regional accrediting organization (more on accreditation later). With both the comprehensive online and clinical training, you can receive a premium education with this approach to learning. If you are disciplined enough to study at home, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Phlebotomist Colleges
Since you now have a general understanding about what it takes to become a phlebotomy tech, it’s time to start your due diligence process. You might have already decided on the kind of program you want to enroll in, whether it be for a certificate or a degree. As we previously mentioned, the location of the Alaska campus is relevant as well as the tuition expense. Perhaps you have opted to enroll in an online phlebotomist school. All of these decisions are a critical component of the procedure for choosing a program or school. But they are not the only concerns when making your decision. Following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are reviewing before making your ultimate decision.
Is the Phlebotomy Program State Specific? As mentioned previously, each state has its own laws for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Several states call for certification, while a few others require licensing. Every state has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum amount of clinical training performed prior to working as a phlebotomist. As a result, you might have to pass a State Board, certification or licensing examination. Therefore it’s very important to choose a phlebotomist program that satisfies the state specific requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working and prepares you for any examinations you may be required to take.
Is the Program Accredited? The phlebotomy school and program you choose should be accredited by a respected regional or national accrediting organization, for example the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are many advantages to graduating from an accredited program in addition to a guarantee of a quality education. To begin with, if your program is not accredited, you will not be able to sit for a certification exam offered by any of the previously listed certifying agencies. Next, accreditation will help in securing financial aid or loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools in Alaska. Last, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited college can make you more attractive to prospective employers in the job market.
What is the Program’s Reputation? In numerous states there is little or no regulation of phlebotomy colleges, so there are some that are not of the highest quality. So along with accreditation, it’s imperative to investigate the reputations of any schools you are looking at. You can start by asking the schools for references from employers where they place their students as part of their job assistance program. You can screen online school rating and review services and solicit the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. You can even talk to several Alaska local clinics or hospitals that you may have an interest in working for and find out if they can provide any insights. As a closing thought, you can contact the Alaska school licensing authority and ask if any complaints have been submitted or if the colleges are in full compliance.
Is Ample Training Included? First, contact the Alaska regulator or the state regulator where you will be working 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 considering should provide at least 40 hours of classroom training (most require 120) and 120 hours of clinical training. Anything less than these minimums may indicate that the program is not comprehensive enough to offer sufficient training.
Are Internships Provided? Ask the Alaska schools you are looking at if they have an internship program in partnership with regional healthcare facilities. They are the ideal way to obtain hands-on practical training typically not available on campus. As an additional benefit, internships can assist students establish relationships within the local Alaska healthcare community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Available? Finding your first phlebotomist position will be much easier with the assistance of a job placement program. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing offer assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a school has a high rate, signifying they place most of their students in jobs, it’s an indication that the program has both an excellent reputation together with a substantial network of professional contacts within the Alaska medical community.
Are Class Times Conveniently Scheduled? Finally, it’s critical to confirm that the ultimate program you select offers classes at times that are compatible with your active schedule. This is particularly important if you choose to still work while going to school. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Alaska, make certain they are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend part-time, confirm it is an option also. 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 procedure is should you have to miss any classes as a result of illness or emergencies.
Select the Right Phlebotomist Course in Alaska
Making certain that you select the most suitable phlebotomy training is a critical first step toward your success in this fulfilling health care career position. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that contribute toward the selection of a premium program. Phlebotomist certificate or degree programs are available in a number of academic institutes, including junior or community colleges, trade schools, and colleges and universities that offer an extensive assortment of courses in medical care and health sciences. Program offerings may differ somewhat from state to state as each state has its own mandates when it pertains to phlebotomy training, certification and licensing. The most critical point is that you must thoroughly evaluate and compare each college prior to making your final decision. By addressing the questions that we have furnished, you will be able to narrow down your choices so that you can select the ideal school for you. And with the appropriate education, you can realize your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Alaska.