With literally hundreds of different phlebotomy schools offering certification programs, finding the right one for you can seem like a daunting task. For that reason, it is important to begin your search by first looking for several key characteristics that can help you distinguish between a good school that is worthy of your time and money, and one that isn’t.
Questions To Ask Yourself Before Getting Started
Before you can decide where to pursue your formal phlebotomy training, you need to first develop a clear understanding of your specific needs. Start off by asking yourself the following questions:
- “How much time can I dedicate to school?”
- “Can I meet the admission criteria for most schools?”
- “Can I afford to pay for classes myself, or do I need financial aid?”
- “Am I interested in phlebotomy in general, or a specific discipline within the field?”
The answers you gave to these questions will go a long way toward helping you decide the type of phlebotomy schools and training programs you need. For instance, if you are only able to go to school part-time or have an unpredictable schedule due to parenting responsibilities, etc., you may want to consider looking for a program that offers online classes or some other kind of flexible format.
Do You Need Financial Aid?
If you are concerned about your ability to pay tuition costs, you will need to narrow your search down to only those phlebotomy schools that offer financial assistance.
Do You Want to Specialize?
If you want to work in a laboratory or other specialized setting, you will need to consider becoming a specialist. Depending on the type of specialist you want to become, this could require a specific type of certification, an associate’s degree or even a four-year bachelor’s degree. Should this apply to you, you’ll obviously need to look for a phlebotomist school that offers these programs.
Important Things To Look For In Phlebotomy Schools
As mentioned, there are several key characteristics to look for in phlebotomy schools regardless of the specific type of training you decide to pursue. The following attributes are usually associated with high-quality programs that provide certifications and licenses recognized by employers around the country.
1. Accreditation Status
One of the first things to consider about a program is its accreditation status with one of the major, national accrediting bodies. In the field of phlebotomy, these organizations include the NAACLS (National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences), the ACA (American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals), and the NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies).
Some states have additional accrediting bodies that must also be taken into consideration. For example, in California, phlebotomy certification programs must be accredited through the California Department of Public Health, Laboratory Field Services.
Recognition by one or more of these groups indicates that a phlebotomy certification program meets the highest professional standards (i.e. those of the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians).
2. Program Curriculum
Provided that a school is fully accredited, its curriculum generally meets the standards of the major organizations responsible for phlebotomist certification and licensing. Nonetheless, it is always good to verify that a program’s curriculum includes the following components suggested by the ASPT:
- 90 hours of classroom lecture covering fundamentals (e.g. anatomy, terminology, etc.)
- 30 hours of training in a simulated laboratory setting
- 90 hours in a clinical externship
On average, a student should expect to spend between 16 weeks to a year completing this curriculum.
3. Job Placement Services
Reputable phlebotomy schools will have relationships with local health care providers and be able to provide job placement services to their students. While the nature of these services may range from simply providing leads to local openings all the way up to actual placement with employers, at least some type of program should be offered by any school you choose to attend.
4. Faculty Qualifications
It goes without saying that the faculty plays a huge role in the quality of training provided by any school. Where phlebotomist training is concerned, the NAACLS recommends that instructors hold at least an associate’s degree and be currently certified.
Information about course instructor credentials should be readily available from the schools themselves. If you are unable to locate this important piece of information, be sure to ask about it when you talk to a representative from the school.
One Last Thing About Phlebotomy Schools
While you can find many differences between the schools that offer phlebotomy training across the United States, none of them can guarantee that you will become a certified phlebotomist just by graduating from their programs. Becoming certified requires an individual to pass an approved phlebotomy certification exam in his or her state. Schools should be able to provide the latest pass rates for their graduates as part of the material they offer to potential students.
Therefore, in addition to the other factors to consider when evaluating phlebotomy schools, it is also important to look for programs whose graduates have passed their local certification exams on their first attempt.
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