Can I Do Phlebotomy Training Online?
With the explosion in popularity of online training programs, it’s totally understandable that you may want to take your Phlebotomy certification courses online. However, a major aspect of your training as a Phlebotomist is learning to successfully perform different kinds of venipunctures. And those sorts of skills, for obvious reasons, need to happen within a classroom setting.
That being said, there are online college programs where you can take the theory part of your class online (at your convenience), and you can combine those theory classes with some practical training at your local vocational school or college. In other words, the answer to “Can I take Phlebotomy certification courses online” can’t be answered with an easy “yes”, or “no”. It depends on which the regulations of the state you live in (you can use our handy state-by-state guide on our home page to learn about training requirements in your state), as well as whether these hybrid online/classroom certification courses are offered at a college near you.
We’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you figure out if you can take a portion of your Phlebotomy training online.
I. A Little Background on how Phlebotomy Training Programs Traditionally Work:
While the classroom part of your Phlebotomy training can be done online, your practical experience cannot so it’s something that you will still have to find time to take part in. The critical issue about online training is that you must be well-informed about the requirements of the state in which you want to work. The states of Louisiana, Nevada and Washington have no accredited online phlebotomy programs so if you want to be employed as a phlebotomist in any of those four states, online training will not work for you. Even outside of those four states, if online training is something you want to pursue, please check with the employer you are most interested in to find out if that is an acceptable training program for their hiring practices.
II. The Curious Case of California:
As noted on our Phlebotomy training California guide, the California Department of Public Health has one online college where California residents can become accredited: Contra Costa Medical Career College (CCMCC). As always there is some fine print so read through this to make sure it makes sense for you:
- If you have no experience performing venipunctures, then you can’t apply for the course.
- If you have less than 6-months of on-the-job experience, then you need to submit a ‘completed California experience document signed by a Laboratory Director/MD, DO, CLB‘ (according to their website).
- If you have more than 6 months experience, then you can skip the Beginner course and enrol in the advanced course.
So while there is a way to receive accreditation online in California, you can’t start from the very beginning. These online courses are for people who already have on-the-job experience and want full accreditation from the Department of Health.
III. What Part of Phlebotomy Training Can You Take Online?
Online phlebotomy training is an extremely convenient way to approach the classroom part(which is frequently referred to as the ‘didactic’ part) of your training. Learning can be done at a relatively relaxed pace, and you can choose the location of your studies: home, work, the coffee shop. Just make sure it’s an environment that you can really learn. The certification exams will ask you similar questions and you will need to know the material.
There are online courses which can be completed in as few as 3 days. Days 1 and 2 are comprised of internet training time only. The online classes consist of lessons and quizzes that you complete at your own pace. You are allowed about one week to complete the 2 days successfully before you can register for the Day 3 which is hands-on training at a pre-determined location. So, technically, not all of your training can be completed online. If you are not able to complete the first 2 days successfully, that is, pass their on-line tests, you will not be permitted to continue to Day 3.
There are also free online phlebotomy courses that provide didactic material and quizzes, though none are accredited and do not “count” as credits for other scholastic programs. They are excellent resources for you to find out what phlebotomy school will be like, or study for your certification exams, but you will need to find different programs to be awarded recognition for your time.
Finally, there are online courses that will accept you if you have proof of clinical practice as a phlebotomist under the supervision of an MD, RN or other medically trained personnel. The program can be used for continuing education credits (CECs) or school credits, depending on your level of field experience. You must, however, first qualify with a proven practical record
Some of the subjects you will cover online are: laboratory safety, preventing errors in the laboratory, infection control, anatomy and physiology of blood, phlebotomy procedures (venipuncture and skin puncture), how to perform difficult draws (infants, children, the elderly), dealing with difficult people, basic medical terminology, legal situations in phlebotomy and customer service.
What Do You Need To Do Under Supervision?
Any requirement for patient interaction, particularly skin (dermal) puncture, venipuncture or arterial sampling must be done under supervision. In some cases, you will need to show some experience taking patient histories and dealing with people one-on-one. Anything you need to show as a pre-requisite before or during blood drawing involving a patient, must be done under supervision. Certification Exams and some online coursework, as previously mentioned, require signed proof that you have completed this step before you can move forward.
The Strengths Of Online Courses:
The benefits of an Online course is obviously convenience. First and foremost, you are able to dictate the pace of the material and the location where you can learn. For this method to work well, you must be disciplined and have very good record keeping skills. It’s important that you treat the schedule as though you were going to school and that you respect the underlying goal: for you to learn the material. Since you have the liberty of learning at your own pace, it should be something that you would accomplish even better than if you were in a classroom, at the mercy of the average pace of the whole population. Recognize that you may have questions that are not immediately answerable in your online course. If that happens, make a point of researching those questions on your own. Use Google, Bing, Yahoo or one of the other multitude of search engines available on the internet.
…And The Weaknesses:
Two of the most significant problems have already been mentioned earlier:
You cannot actually complete your phlebotomy training completely online. You will eventually have to perform some clinical practice at a designated field station.
The other significant disadvantage to the online programs available is those that arrange a single day of clinical practice do so by collecting all the people in the vicinity that require supervised practice together. So your skin puncture/venipuncture practice is limited to a few brave souls that are also becoming phlebotomists for the first time. Chances are, you won’t be able to perform too many trial runs. It’s not a perfect model for giving new practitioners a venue to improve.
In summary, there are many upsides to having online courses for phlebotomy training. At the very least, it provides another good learning tool. However, because a significant part of being a really skilled phlebotomist comes from the practical aspects of performing needle “sticks” it falls short of the best way to become a top quality candidate.