Phlebotomists draw blood for medical procedures and tests. In order to take blood safely and effectively, you must have adequate knowledge and experience, and phlebotomy training programs provide this through both classroom teaching and hands-on practice.
Because there is so much hands-on practice necessary to master the physical skills required for phlebotomy, it is very difficult to obtain this degree solely online. However, phlebotomy technicians who are already working in the field can easily gain certification through an online program.
What Do Phlebotomists Do?*
Phlebotomy is classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as a healthcare support occupation. According to the BLS, healthcare support occupations include nurses’ aides, dental assistants, massage therapists, medical transcriptionists, and physical and occupational therapy assistants. The general designation of healthcare support includes most jobs that are not immediately classified under nursing, doctors, or technicians of various sorts. Phlebotomists perform the following job duties:
Phlebotomists are not required to be certified in most states, but a certified phlebotomist may find it easier to secure employment and may enjoy more professional respect than one who is not.
Can I Get A Phlebotomy Degree Online?
The answer to this question depends on what part of your training you intend to take online. If you want to get your theoretical teaching online and perform your hands-on training under the supervision of a local phlebotomist, this is possible with a number of online programs. What you cannot do is simply take an online course, watch some videos, and become a certified phlebotomist. You must have some form of hands-on training before you can get a certificate.
There are several online programs that offer online training combined with hands-on practice. Various websites offer several online courses with different costs and different amounts of time required to get your certification as a phlebotomist. Some of these courses are designed to allow a working phlebotomist to simply add certification to his or her resume; others are designed to train you from the “ground up.”
Although you can choose from a wide variety of online programs, it is very important to choose one that is accredited by a regional or national organization, such as the American Credentialing Agency or ACA, the American Medical Technologists or AMT, the American Society for Clinical Pathology’s Board of Certification or ASCP-BOC, the National Center for Competency Testing or NCCT, or the National Healthcareer Association or NHA. Each of these agencies offers certification for various phlebotomy programs and offers testing to prove that you are competent as a phlebotomist.
If you attend an accredited program and get your state certification, you are much more likely to be hired for a good phlebotomy job. If you choose a non-accredited program, however, you may well be unprepared for your new career and may have a harder time finding a job.
What are the Benefits of an Online Phlebotomy Course?
Like most online courses, online phlebotomy courses offer much more flexibility in scheduling than on-campus programs. For people who are already working and want to add phlebotomy to their skills set, online courses may be the perfect answer. On the other hand, online courses require the student to have a certain degree of self-motivation, so it is necessary for an online phlebotomy student to be able to take charge of his or her own education and work unsupervised for the most part.
The drawback to online phlebotomy courses is that a student must always be concerned with the hands-on practice necessary to gain phlebotomy certification. Many online programs put the responsibility on the student to gain the requisite experience; for example, some online programs require anyone applying for certification provide proof that he or she has performed at least twenty-five successful blood draws or “vein punctures” under the supervision of a professional phlebotomy technician. Other programs provide opportunities for students to practice drawing blood under controlled conditions.
No matter which type of program you choose, be sure that the program is an accredited and approved program for phlebotomy training.
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/soc/2010/soc319097.htm)