Choosing a Phlebotomy Technician Course in District of Columbia
Picking the right phlebotomy technician school in District of Columbia is an important first step toward a fulfilling profession as a phlebotomist. It might seem like a daunting task to assess and compare all of the school options that are accessible to you. Nevertheless it’s necessary that you do your due diligence to make sure that you obtain a superior education. In fact, a large number of students start the process by looking at two of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are cost and location. Another option you may consider 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 much more to checking out phlebotomy training programs than finding the closest or the cheapest one. Other factors such as accreditation and reputation are also significant considerations and need to be part of your selection process also. Toward that end, we will provide a list of questions that you should ask each of the phlebotomy schools you are assessing to help you select the ideal one for you. But prior to doing that, let’s cover what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards resume our conversation about online training.
Phlebotomy Tech Career Description
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy tech, draws blood from patients. While that is their principal function, there is in fact so much more to their job description. Before collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist has to confirm that the tools being used are single use only and sterile. After collection, the sample has to be correctly labeled with the patient’s data. Next, paperwork needs to be correctly filled out in order to track the sample from the point of collection through the laboratory screening procedure. The phlebotomist then delivers the blood to either an an outside lab facility or an in-house lab where it can be tested for such things as infectious diseases, pregnancy or blood type. Many District of Columbia phlebotomists actually work in laboratories and are in charge of making sure that samples are analyzed properly using the highest quality control procedures. And if those weren’t enough responsibilities, they might be asked to instruct other phlebotomists in the drawing, delivery and follow-up process.
Where are Phlebotomy Techs Employed?
The most basic answer is wherever they treat patients. Their work places are many and diverse, including District of Columbia medical clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, or blood centers. They may be tasked to draw blood samples from patients of all ages, from babies or young children to seniors. A number of phlebotomy techs, depending on their practice and their training, specialize in drawing blood from a particular type of patient. For example, those practicing in an assisted living facility or nursing home would only be drawing blood from elderly patients. If they are working in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from mothers and newborns exclusively. In contrast, phlebotomy technicians practicing in a general hospital environment would be collecting samples from a wide range of patients and would collect samples from different patients every day.
Phlebotomist Training, Licensing and Certification
There are essentially two kinds of programs that furnish phlebotomist training in District of Columbia, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program generally takes less than a year to finish and provides a general 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, even though it’s not specifically a phlebotomy degree, will provide training on becoming a phlebotomy tech. Offered at community and junior colleges, they typically take two years to finish. Bachelor’s Degrees are not as available and as a 4 year program provide a more comprehensive foundation in lab sciences. After you have finished your training, you will probably want to become certified. While not mandated in the majority of states, many employers require certification before hiring technicians. A few of the primary certifying organizations 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 phlebotomist, like California and Nevada. California and a few additional states even require licensing. So it’s essential that you enroll in a phlebotomy training program that not only provides a superior education, but also readies you for any licensing or certification exams that you elect or are required to take.
Online Phlebotomist Schools
First, let’s dispel one likely misconception. You can’t obtain all of your phlebotomy training online. A good part of the curriculum will be practical training and it will be performed either in an approved District of Columbia healthcare facility or an on-campus lab. Numerous courses also require completing an internship in order to graduate. However since the non-clinical component of the training may be accessed online, it may be a more practical option for some students. As an added benefit, many online classes are more affordable than their traditional competitors. And some expenses, for instance those for textbooks or commuting, may be lessened also. Just make sure that the online phlebotomist college you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting organization (more on accreditation to follow). With both the comprehensive online and clinical training, you can obtain a superior education with this means of learning. If you are disciplined enough to study at home, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Topics to Ask Phlebotomy Programs
Since you now have a general understanding about what it takes to become a phlebotomist, it’s time to initiate your due diligence process. You may have already picked 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 District of Columbia college is important in addition to the tuition expense. Perhaps you have opted to enroll in an online phlebotomy school. Each of these decisions are a critical component of the process for selecting a program or school. But they are not the sole considerations when making your decision. Following are several questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision.
Is the Phlebotomist Program Specific to Your State? As earlier discussed, each state has its own requirements for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Several states require certification, while some others mandate licensing. Every state has its own requirement regarding the minimum amount of practical training completed before working as a phlebotomy tech. Consequently, you might have to pass a State Board, certification or licensing examination. Therefore it’s extremely important to choose a phlebotomy program that complies with the state specific requirements for District of Columbia or the state where you will be practicing and preps you for any exams you may be required to take.
Is the College Accredited? The phlebotomist school and program you choose should be accredited by a respected national or regional accrediting organization, for example the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are several benefits to graduating from an accredited school aside from an assurance of a quality education. First, if your program is not accredited, you will not be able to sit for a certification exam offered by any of the earlier listed certifying organizations. Also, accreditation will help in getting financial aid or loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited colleges in District of Columbia. Last, earning a certificate or a degree from an accredited college can make you more desirable to potential employers in the job market.
What is the College’s Ranking? In a number of states there is little or no regulation of phlebotomist schools, so there are those that are not of the highest quality. So along with accreditation, it’s imperative to investigate the reputations of all schools you are considering. 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 screen internet school rating and review services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. You can even talk to some District of Columbia area hospitals or clinics that you may have an interest in working for and find out if they can offer any insights. As a closing thought, you can contact the District of Columbia school licensing authority and find out if any complaints have been filed or if the schools are in full compliance.
Is Sufficient Training Included? To begin with, contact the District of Columbia 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. At a minimum, any phlebotomist program that you are considering should provide no less than 40 hours of classroom training (most require 120) and 120 hours of practical training. Anything less than these minimums might indicate that the program is not comprehensive enough to furnish sufficient training.
Are Internships Included? Ask the District of Columbia colleges you are looking at if they have an internship program in partnership with regional health care facilities. They are the ideal means to receive hands-on practical training typically not available on campus. As an additional benefit, internships can assist students develop contacts within the local District of Columbia medical community. And they are a plus on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Getting your first phlebotomist position will be much easier with the assistance of a job placement program. Find out if the schools you are looking at provide assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a school has a higher rate, meaning they place the majority of their students in positions, it’s an indication that the college has both a good reputation as well as a large network of professional contacts within the District of Columbia health care community.
Are Classes Offered to Fit Your Schedule? And last, it’s critical to make sure that the final college you pick offers classes at times that will accommodate your hectic lifestyle. This is especially true if you decide to still work while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends in District of Columbia, make sure they are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend part-time, make sure it is an option as well. 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 procedure is in case you have to miss any classes due to illness or emergencies.
Choose the Best Phlebotomy School in District of Columbia
Making sure that you choose the most suitable phlebotomist training is an essential 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. Phlebotomist certificate or degree programs can be offered in a wide range of educational institutions, such as community or junior colleges, vocational schools, and colleges and universities that offer an extensive assortment of courses in medical care and health sciences. Course options can vary somewhat across the country as each state has its own requirements when it pertains to phlebotomist training, licensing and certification. The most critical point is that you need to diligently screen and compare each college before making your final decision. By addressing the questions that we have furnished, you will be able to fine tune your options so that you can select the right college for you. And with the appropriate training, you can realize your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in District of Columbia.