Selecting a Phlebotomy Training Program in Pennsylvania
Selecting the ideal phlebotomist school in Pennsylvania is an important first step toward a fulfilling profession as a phlebotomist. It may seem like a challenging undertaking to analyze and compare each of the school alternatives that are accessible to you. Nevertheless it’s vital that you perform your due diligence to make sure that you get a quality education. In reality, many students begin their search by considering two of the qualifiers that first come to mind, which are cost and location. Yet another option you might look into is whether to attend classes online or commute to a local campus. We’ll discuss a bit more about online schools later in this article. What’s important to remember is that there is a lot more to checking out phlebotomy training programs than finding the closest or the cheapest one. Other variables 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 evaluating to help you choose the right one for you. But before we do that, let’s cover what a phlebotomist is and does, and afterwards continue our conversation about online schools.
Phlebotomy Tech Job Description
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy tech, collects blood samples from patients. While that is their primary task, there is in fact far more to their job description. Prior to collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist must check that the instruments being employed are single use only and sterile. Following the collection, the sample must be accurately labeled with the patient’s data. Next, paperwork needs to be properly completed to be able to track the sample from the time of collection through the laboratory testing procedure. The phlebotomist then transports 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. A number of Pennsylvania phlebotomists in fact work in labs and are in charge of making sure that samples are tested correctly using the highest 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 do Phlebotomy Techs Work?
The quickest response is wherever there are patients. Their work environments are numerous and diverse, such as Pennsylvania hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, or blood banks. They may be charged to collect blood samples from patients of all ages, from babies or young children to seniors. Some phlebotomists, depending on their practice and their training, specialize in collecting blood from a particular kind of patient. For example, those working in a nursing home or assisted living facility would solely be drawing blood from senior patients. If they are practicing in a maternity ward, they would be drawing blood from newborns and mothers exclusively. In contrast, phlebotomists working in a general hospital environment would be collecting blood from a wide variety of patients and would work with new patients every day.
Phlebotomist Education, Licensing and Certification
There are primarily two types of programs that offer phlebotomist training in Pennsylvania, which are certificate and degree programs. The certificate program typically takes less than a year to complete and furnishes a basic education along with the training on how to draw blood. It offers the quickest method 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 to become a phlebotomist. Available at junior and community colleges, they normally take 2 years to finish. Bachelor’s Degrees are less accessible and as a 4 year program offer a more expansive foundation in lab sciences. After you have finished your training, you will no doubt want to become certified. Although not required in the majority of states, most employers look for certification prior to employing technicians. Some 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 a few states that do require certification prior to practicing as a phlebotomy tech, like California and Nevada. California and a few additional states even require licensing. So it’s imperative that you pick a phlebotomist training program that not only provides a premium education, but also readies you for any certification or licensing exams that you elect or are required to take.
Online Phlebotomist Schools
To begin with, let’s dispel one possible mistaken belief. You can’t obtain all of your phlebotomist training online. A substantial portion of the course of study will be practical training and it will be performed either in an on-campus lab or an approved healthcare facility. Many courses also require completing an internship in order to graduate. However since the non-practical portion of the training can be attended online, it can be a more practical option for some students. As an additional benefit, some online colleges are less expensive than their on-campus competitors. And some expenditures, including those for textbooks or commuting, may be lessened also. Just verify that the online phlebotomy program you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). With both the extensive online and clinical training, you can obtain a premium education with this means of learning. If you are disciplined enough to learn at home, then attaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
What to Ask Phlebotomy Colleges
Since you now have a basic understanding about what it takes to become a phlebotomist, it’s time to initiate your due diligence process. You might have already selected the type of program you wish to enroll in, whether it be for a degree or a certificate. As we previously mentioned, the location of the Pennsylvania school is important in addition to the tuition expense. Maybe you have opted to enroll in an online phlebotomy program. Each of these decisions are a critical component of the process for selecting a program or school. But they are not the sole concerns when arriving at your decision. Following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection.
Is the Phlebotomy Program Specific to Your State? As previously mentioned, each state has its own requirements for practicing as a phlebotomy technician. Several states require certification, while some others require licensing. Each has its own prerequisite regarding the minimum amount of clinical training performed before working as a phlebotomy tech. Consequently, you may need to pass a State Board, licensing or certification exam. Therefore it’s very important to enroll in a phlebotomy program that complies with the state specific requirements for Pennsylvania or the state where you will be practicing and prepares you for all exams you may have to take.
Is the School Accredited? The phlebotomist school and program you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized national or regional accrediting organization, such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). There are several benefits to graduating from an accredited school in addition to an assurance of a quality education. To begin with, if your program is not accredited, you will not be able to take a certification exam offered by any of the earlier listed certifying organizations. Next, accreditation will help in obtaining financial aid or loans, which are typically unavailable for non-accredited programs in Pennsylvania. Last, graduating from an accredited school can make you more desirable to potential employers in the job market.
What is the College’s Reputation? In numerous states there is minimal or no regulation of phlebotomist schools, so there are some that are not of the highest caliber. So along with accreditation, it’s important to investigate the reputations of all schools you are reviewing. You can begin 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 rating and review services and solicit the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. You can also check with some Pennsylvania area hospitals or clinics that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations. As a final thought, you can contact the Pennsylvania school licensing authority and find out if any grievances have been submitted or if the colleges are in full compliance.
Is Sufficient Training Included? First, check with the Pennsylvania 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 looking at should provide at least 40 hours of classroom training (most require 120) and 120 hours of practical training. Anything lower than these minimums might signify that the program is not comprehensive enough to offer sufficient training.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask the Pennsylvania programs you are considering if they have an internship program in collaboration with local health care facilities. They are the ideal way to obtain hands-on clinical training often not obtainable on campus. As an added benefit, internships can help students establish contacts within the local Pennsylvania health care community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Available? Finding your first phlebotomist position will be a lot easier with the support of a job placement program. Ask if the schools you are reviewing provide assistance and what their job placement rate is. If a college has a high rate, signifying they place most of their students in jobs, it’s an indication that the program has both a good reputation along with a substantial network of professional contacts within the Pennsylvania health care community.
Are Class Times Offered to Fit Your Schedule? And last, it’s crucial to make sure that the ultimate program you choose offers classes at times that are compatible with your busy lifestyle. This is particularly important if you choose to still work while going to school. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Pennsylvania, make certain they are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify it is an option as well. And if you have decided to study online, with the practical training requirement, make sure those hours can also be completed within your schedule. And ask what the make-up policy is should you have to miss any classes as a result of emergencies or illness.
Choose the Best Phlebotomy College in Pennsylvania
Making sure that you choose the most suitable phlebotomy training is an essential first step toward your success in this rewarding healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that go into the selection of a superior school. Phlebotomist training programs can be found in a wide range of academic institutes, such as junior or community colleges, trade schools, and colleges and universities that provide a wide array of courses in medical care and health sciences. Training program options may vary somewhat from state to state as each state has its own criteria when it comes to phlebotomist training, licensing and certification. The most critical point is that you must diligently evaluate and compare each program before making your ultimate choice. By addressing the questions that we have provided, you will be able to fine tune your options so that you can pick the ideal school for you. And with the appropriate education, you can achieve your goal of becoming a phlebotomy technician in Pennsylvania.