Distance Education Program

Specialist in Blood Bank Technology

Program Director: Clare Wong, MT(ASCP)SBB,SLS
Program Medical Director: Beth Hartwell, MD
Structure: Distance Learning/clinical experience rotation
Duration: 12 months
Fees: $3000/year (non-refundable)
Start Date: May (or as determined by Program Director)
Application Deadline: February 1

Click here to download the Application Form

Contact Information

Manager, Education/ SBB School
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center
1400 La Concha Lane
Houston, TX 77054-1802
(713) 791-6201

Our Graduate's Achievements

Since the inception of the SBB program in 1993, our graduates received 33 SBB scholarship awards by AABB-Fenwal, SCABB sol Haberman, and Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center; presented over 38 paper presentations at AABB, SCABB, and ISBT meetings; and published five papers in Transfusion, Vox Sanguinis, Immunohematology and Clinical Laboratory Science.

What Our Graduates Say

  • This is a course designed for experienced blood bankers to further their education without leaving their jobs and families
  • The enormous amount of information is well organized into manageable parts, and laid out in advance, so there were no surprises. Each part builds upon the next with a good flow. Objectives for each module were clearly outlined.
  • It was up to the student to do the homework, study available references and presentations, consult the external links, and ask questions when needed. Every question or concern that I brought up was addressed to my satisfaction.
  • Great program officials, always supportive.
Program Description/Goals

Gulf Coast School of Blood Bank Technology (GCSBBT), sponsored by Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, offers a Specialist in Blood Banking (SBB) program via distance education. 

GCSBBT is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP, 1361 Park Street Clearwater, FL 33756, 727-210-2350 www.caahep.org) upon the recommendation of the AABB Committee on Accreditation of Specialist in Blood Bank Technology Schools (CoA-SBBT).

Certification by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) is required for designation as an SBB. SBBs are knowledgeable in all aspects of blood banking, transfusion medicine, hematopoietic, cellular and gene therapies, and tissue transplantation. These individuals are subject matter experts on variety of subjects including regulatory and quality systems, genetics, immunology, blood groups, collection and storage of blood and components, donor processing, immune mechanisms, component therapy, transfusion of the newborn, complications of transfusion, general administration, personnel administration, education and automated data processing.

A certified SBB can assume a variety of roles within the transfusion medicine field including supervision/management, regulatory experts, technical/procedural advisors, laboratory administrators, quality assessors and managers, educators and researchers.

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center's GCSBBT program is a 12-month online program designed for medical laboratory scientists who want to advance their knowledge and career in blood banking and its related disciplines. The goal of GCSBBT is to prepare competent entry-level Specialists in Blood Bank Technology/Transfusion Medicine (SBB/TM) in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains.

Utilizing web-based course management system to deliver didactic content, this online SBB program offers a flexible educational experience that does not require on-site attendance. The clinical experience may be obtained through rotation in a blood center, transfusion service, or other clinical laboratory settings. Each student also performs independent research or critical and evaluative paper in the field of immunohematology. Upon the successful completion of this program, graduates are awarded a certificate of completion in blood bank technology and are then eligible to take the SBB certification examination given by the ASCP Board of Certification (ASCP BOC).

Applicant Qualifications

Candidates for the GCSBBT Program must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college/university including biological science, chemistry, and mathematics courses.
  • MLS (ASCP) certification or equivalent.
  • Two or more years full-time equivalence experience in transfusion service including ABO/D typing, antigen typing, antibody detection and identification, crossmatch, and elution testing.
  • A minimum grade point average of 2.5 (on a scale of 4.0) in the undergraduate study.
  • A citizen or legal resident of the United States.
  • Have identified a qualified mentor who has agreed to provide assistance and guidance.
Application Documents
  1. Application for Admission form - completed and signed
  2. Copy of ASCP or NCA certification or ID card
  3. SBB Applicant Practical Experience form
  4. List of blood bank continuing education for the past two years
  5. Memo of Understanding for clinical rotations
  6. Written essay: Applicant's goals and expectations from SBB training
  7. Copy or official transcripts of undergraduate study
  8. Three professional references
Admission Policies and Evaluation

The admission policy of GCSBBT is nondiscriminatory. All applicants meeting the application requirements will be evaluated for admission into the program regardless of sex, race, religion, creed, national origin or disabling conditions. The Admission Committee selects those SBB applicants whose academic and clinical experience will help to achieve a well-rounded SBB. The Committee consists of the SBB Program Director and at least two members from the SBB Advisory Committee. Each member will complete an evaluation, and the total points are determined for each applicant.  Applicants will be qualified for acceptance to the SBB program in reverse numerical sequence starting with the highest number of points earned and proceeding until all positions are filled. A qualified applicant who is offered a position by the Admissions Committee is officially admitted to the GCSBBT program only when the Program Director receives all of the following completed documents:

  • Applicant/Student Acceptance Agreement
  • Mentor Agreement
  • Memo of Understanding for clinical experience
  • Verification of Health Status form
Mentor Responsibilities and Qualification
The student must have an individual who is willing and able to serve as a mentor. The mentor plays a critical role in the success of the student. The mentor’s role is to provide counseling and guidance to the student that include but is not limited to finding rotation facilities, making antibody samples, monitoring student rotation, assisting student with research projects, and evaluating student presentations. The mentor must meet oneof the following requirements:
  • MLS(ASCP)SBB or SBB(ASCP) or equivalent with a minimum of two years of experience in a donor/testing center, transfusion service, or reference laboratory.
  • MLS(ASCP), CLS(NCA),  BB(ASCP) or equivalent with a minimum of three years of experience in a donor/testing center, transfusion service, or reference laboratory.
  • If a Pathologist (board certified in Transfusion Medicine or a Director of a Blood Bank) signs as a mentor, the students must identify another SBB/MLS who is willing to assist the student during the SBB program year. 
  • Other qualifications must be approved by Program Director.
Criteria for Successful Completion of the GCSBBT program

Successful completion of the GCSBBT program includes but is not limited to:

  • Written exams: achieved a cumulative score of 75% or higher
  • Practical exam: achieved a score of 90% or higher on each serological specimen
  • Presentations: presented two journal club presentations using PowerPoint
  • Research project or equivalent: completed* to the approval of the Program Director
  • Clinical experience: completed rotation checklists to the approval of the Program Director
  • Lecture evaluation: completed and received by the Program Director
  • SBB Graduate Survey: completed at the end of the SBB program year
  • SBB Employer Survey: completed at the end of the SBB program year

*A student who has not completely finished the research project at the end of the SBB program year is allowed a 3-month extension. Until all requirements have been completed and received by the SBB Program Director, the student will not be granted the SBB certificate or the Program Director's signature authorizing eligibility for the ASCP BOC examination. Additionally, the student must pay a monthly fee of $200.00 until all requirements are complete.

Student Attributes

Students enrolled in the GCSBBT Program must be self-motivated, self-disciplined and be committed to keep up with the SBB curriculum workload. The student must be willing and able to commit to 8 to 15 hours per week (or longer, if required), to keep up with the SBB program. Additional requirements to be successful in an online program include good skills in independent learning, organization, time management, and written communication.

Computer Requirements

The student must have access to a computer with high-speed Internet as well as word processing and presentation software such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. The student should be proficient in the use of the Internet.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a distance SBB program?
An online SBB program will provide classroom-type experience but using distance education. Students will be able to participate in an SBB program at their home town without traveling to the location of the SBB program.
Is there face-to-face interaction in this SBB program?
This SBB program is a distance education, and therefore has no face-to-face meetings during the program year. However, the class meets on-site the first week during orientation. The class interacts by email and by regularly-scheduled conference calls.
How do I know if I have the attributes to succeed in a distance education?
What Makes a Successful Online Student? This web site provides information about the qualities that a student must possess to be successful in online education. http://www.ion.uillinois.edu/resources/tutorials/pedagogy/StudentProfile.asp
What role does my current work facility play?
The SBB student's place of employment must acknowledge and support the student's application to the SBB Program. The facility must complete a Memo of Understanding. Any changes in facility will require a new mentor form and/or facility form.
What is a mentor? What are the mentor's responsibilities? What qualifications must a mentor have?
The mentor plays a critical role in the success of the student in completing the SBB program. The mentor's role is to provide counseling and guidance to the student that includes but is not limited to:
  • Provide assistance to the student if the student has problems.
  • Communicate with the SBB Program Director if the student is having trouble with the program.
  • Help the student find facilities to provide clinical experience.
  • Provide the student with serological samples, if needed, to complete the homework assignments. 
  • Review and sign the checklists for clinical experience.
  • Provide expertise as an experienced role model in the field.
Who selects my mentor?
You, the student, must select a mentor. The mentor must complete a Mentor Agreement and send in a CV and/or resume. Any changes in mentor will require a new mentor form.
What is clinical experience and what are some examples?
Clinical experience is acquired through work experience or rotation and includes but is not limited to donor recruitment, collection and testing; component preparation/labeling/storage; transfusion service; reference laboratory; HLA and molecular genetics; HPC processing, quality assurance, management and education.
Must I complete all clinical experiences listed on the rotation checklist during my SBB program year even if I have prior experience?
If a student already has the required clinical experience, that particular clinical experience may be waived provided the student has met all of the following criteria:
  1. Worked in that area for at least one year (full time equivalent)
  2. The clinical rotation checklist for the experience is approved and signed by your mentor or by you're the management at your facility. 
How will I obtain the necessary clinical experience?
You can acquire some of the experience at your present place of employment.
You will have to locate other facilities to provide the experience not offered at your present place of employment. Additional facility agreements (Memo of Understanding) must be signed and sent to the Program Director. You can come to The Blood Center to obtain some of the clinical experience.
How much time do I have to spend in acquiring the required clinical experience?
The amount of time you will have to spend will be different for every student. This depends on your prior experience.
What documentation is required for completing the necessary clinical experience?
Clinical experience is documented using a set of checklists. the completed and signed checklist is sent to the SBB Program Director. These checklists are EXTENSIVE and time consuming. Remember you are NOT just taking a course to pass the SBB ASCP exam; you are enrolled in a SBB program to get a broad experience in transfusion medicine.
What is the fee for this program?
The total fee of $3000 for the twelve-month program is divided into two installments. The first $1500 is accessed by the first day of the program and the balance at the 4th month of the program. All fees are non-refundable. Additionally, the student is responsible for textbooks, reagents to solve serological problems, and other charges that may be assessed from the facilities that agree to provide your clinical experience.
Is on-site time required at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center (GCRBC)?
The SBB student is required to attend a one-week orientation on-site at GCRBC at the beginning of the program. Students will learn how to access lectures and exams online; attend lectures; develop a study schedule; and become acquainted with other students. The SBB student must pay for all costs associated with this orientation week that includes travel and accommodations. Other than the orientation week, the SBB student may need to spend additional time at GCRBC at the recommendation of the Program Director/mentor.
What textbooks are required for this SBB program?
A list of references is available at the ASCP BOC Web site: http://www.ascp.org/.
At the minimum, the SBB student must have access to the current edition of the AABB Technical Manual and AABB Standards, as well as other general blood bank textbooks.
How will I take the written and practical exams?
Written exams will be given online. Unknowns and a practical exam consisting of serological samples will be mailed to you.
How will I know what information to study for the exams?
The SBB student should complete all online lectures, lecture objectives and assignments. Students should seek assistance from their mentors. The Program officials and lecturers can also clarify questions you may have.
What is the minimum passing score of examinations?
The SBB student must take the exams at the scheduled times and pass with a minimum score of 75%.
What if I do not pass the exam the first time or have problems with the program?
Students must achieve a minimum cumulative score of 75% on written exams. The GCSBBT program will work with the student and the student's mentor to assist students with the coursework. The GCSBBT Program reserves the right to dismiss a student who shows persistent poor performance or not keeping up with the SBB program progression.
What are other requirements in addition to completing exams and clinical experience?
In addition to the 12 exams, a midterm, a final written and a practical, the SBB student must also complete a research project or equivalent, present critiques on journal articles and antibody cases, prepare unknown samples and complete a management and education projects. For many of you, this will be in addition to your personal job responsibilities. This will be a very busy year. Students taking an online SBB program must be self-motivated, committed, organized, and have good time management skills.

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