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Department of Transfusion Medicine

Specialists in Blood Bank (SBB)

Photograph of a Specialist in Blood BankThe DTM Specialist in Blood Bank (SBB) Training Program was established in 1966. Many of its graduates are now technical supervisors, education coordinators, quality assurance specialists, or reference technologists at some of the nation's finest blood banks and transfusion services. Others have joined commercial companies in reference and education capacities. The program is a 1-year course (July-July) in advanced blood bank technology. The NIH Clinical Center Blood Bank, Specialist in Blood Bank Technology Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs upon the recommendation of the AABB Committee on Accreditation of SBB programs.

25400 U.S. Highway 19
North, Suite 158
Clearwater, FL 33763
Phone: 727-210-2350
Fax: 727-210-2354

Students must complete full program to receive certificate and be eligible to sit for the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Registry examination offered for the Specialist in Blood Banking.

The curriculum includes formal and informal teaching sessions covering basic and advanced serological techniques; blood donations; genetics; molecular immunohematology; viral disease testing; blood preservation and storage; component therapy; apheresis; hazards of transfusion; immunology; human leukocyte antigen (HLA) and transplantation; blood bank administration; and other relevant topics. Participation is encouraged at monthly departmental blood bank Journal Club presentations, Laboratory Services Section's continuing education opportunities and weekly transfusion medicine conferences. Students complete rotations in the DTM Laboratory Services Section, which includes an AABB -accredited Immunohematology Reference Laboratory, and an ASHI-accredited Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) Typing Laboratory. A rotation in the Blood Services Section of the DTM provides experience in donor recruitment, screening, phlebotomy, and apheresis procedures. Experience in infectious disease testing and hematopoietic transplantation is obtained through rotations in both the Infectious Diseases and Cell Processing Sections of the DTM. Rotations off-site address neonatal/pediatric transfusion practices.

With the guidance of a senior DTM staff member, each student is required to pursue an in-depth project suitable for presentation and/or publication. The project may concern a research issue in blood banking, a case study with a review of the literature, or an educational project.

Students are evaluated periodically by the education coordinator and the technical supervisor. The final grade of pass or fail is based on appraisal of all activities and examinations. As employees of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), students are also evaluated through the department's employee performance appraisal system. Students are considered part of the technical staff of the Laboratory Services Section of the Department of Transfusion Medicine. They share in the responsibilities of holiday and weekend coverage plus other assignments as deemed necessary by the supervisory staff.

Program Outcomes

The ASCP SBB Certification

Pass rate of graduates:

3 year (2017-2019) = 100%

5 year (2015-2019) = 100%

Publications Since 2010

Byrne KM, Paige TD, Flegel WA. An outcome-based review of an accredited Specialist in Blood Banking (SBB) program: 25 years and counting. Immunohematology 2020 March;36(1):7-13.

Tynuv M, Flegel WA. Quality improvement with platelet additive solution for safer out-of-group platelet transfusions. Immunohematology 2019 Sep;35(3):108-115.

Byrne KM, Mercado CMC, Nnabue TN, Paige TD, Flegel WA. Inhibition of blood group antibodies by soluble substances. Immunohematology 2019;35:19-22.

Lodermeier MA, Byrne KM, Flegel WA. Red blood cell sedimentation of Apheresis Granulocytes. Transfusion 2017;57:2551-2552.

Reese EM, Nelson RC, Flegel WA, Byrne KM, Booth GS. Critical Value Reporting in Transfusion Medicine: A survey of communication practices in US facilities. Am J Clin Pathol 2017;147:492-499.

Byrne KM, Levy KY, Reese EM. Following the Rules Set by Accreditation Agencies and Governing Bodies to Maintain In-Compliance Status: Applying Critical Thinking Skills When Evaluating the Need for Change in the Clinical Laboratory. Lab Med 2016;May47(2):e21-6.

Byrne KM, Frank EG, Gedman LA, Ivey JR. They're Here! How to Prepare Your Blood Bank for Inspection. Lab Med 2015 Winter;46(1):e2-6.

Schmid P, Huvard MJ, Lee-Stroka AH, Lee JY, Byrne KM, Flegel WA. Red blood cell preservation by droplet freezing with polyvinylpyrrolidone or sucrose-dextrose and by bulk freezing with glycerol. Transfusion 2011;51:2703-8.

Byrne KM, Booth GS, Lee JY, Ravenell KR. The importance of antibody detection and identification in the chronically transfused patient. LabMedicine May 2010, vol 41;5.

Before and After

See snap shot below for opportunities available to students graduating from our program:

Before entering our program After graduating from our program
Technologist with MSc and >5 years of blood bank experience Education/training coordinator for the blood bank in a large military facility
Technologist working third shift for three years after graduation Transfusion Medicine Quality Specialist for large medical center
Technologist working in transfusion medicine for 2 years Technical Support Lead for reagent manufacturer
Technologist with varied experience in transfusion medicine, microbiology and hematology Manager of an Immunohematology Reference Laboratory
Technologist working in an Immunohematology Reference Laboratory for 3 years Faculty member for a Clinical Laboratory Scientist program in a large university

Since graduating class of 2005, 7 of 26 (27%) graduates have either received or are pursing master’s degrees from various universities. Some of these universities recognize the NIH SBB certificate and the ASCP SBB certification and grant credits toward degrees such as Clinical Laboratory Management, Transfusion Medicine and Immunohematology & Biotechnology.

Admission Requirements

Candidates for the Clinical Center's Specialist in Blood Bank Training Program must meet the following requirements:

  • US citizenship is required
  • Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college/university including biological science, chemistry, and mathematics courses.
  • Two or more years full-time blood banking experience.
  • Quality and extent of the applicant's blood banking experience are considered.

Additional criteria considered in selecting candidates are:

  • Membership in blood bank associations
  • Participation in training workshops
  • Attendance at continuing education programs
  • Research interests and projects
  • Supervisory and teaching experience
  • Attainment of advanced degrees
  • Awards and outstanding employee ratings

How to Apply

Candidates must submit the following items for consideration by the Admission Committee:

  • A resume, optional application for federal employment (OF-612), application for federal employment (SF-171), or any other written format ...provided it contains all the required information (application must include starting and ending dates, number of hours worked per week, and description of duties/responsibilities for each position).
  • Transcripts from all colleges attended, including medical technology and postgraduate courses, if applicable.
  • A short summary of the applicant's reasons for applying to the Clinical Center's Specialist in Blood Bank (SBB) Training Program and a statement of career goals, including how the applicant intents to use SBB training.
  • Two or more letters of recommendation, including one from the applicant's current supervisor or medical director.

Applications should be sent to:

SBB Education Coordinator
NIH Clinical Center
Dept of Transfusion Medicine
Building 10, Room 1C711
10 Center Drive, MSC 1184
Bethesda, MD 20892-1184

Applications must be received by December 31. Candidates will be contacted to arrange an interview with the SBB Admissions Committee. (The DTM cannot compensate candidates for their travel expenses.) Applicants will be notified of selection or nonselection.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) does not discriminate in employment on grounds of sex, race, color, age, religion, handicap, or national origin.

Salary and Benefits

A competitive salary (GS 11, step 1) is offered. Each student is paid as a part-time (32 hours a week), temporary employee not to exceed 13 months to be eligible for benefits. In addition to the 10 regular holidays recognized by the Federal Government, students accrue approximately 10 days of annual (vacation leave) and 10 days of sick leave, if needed.

Participation in program does not convey Federal status; though they are welcome to apply to opportunities open to all US citizens.

Additional Resources

Students have access to an excellent collection of journals and books in the DTM library and the NIH library. An extensive collection of textbooks and journals in both blood banking and related fields is available from the National Library of Medicine, located on the NIH campus. Students are encouraged to attend seminars, lectures, and symposia given on the NIH campus and at area universities and other local medical institutions. If funds permit, students will receive support to attend one professional meeting in the field of transfusion medicine.

The Washington Community

Metropolitan Washington abounds in recreational and cultural opportunities. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts offers the National Symphony Orchestra, ballet, opera, and drama. During the summer, musical and theatrical events are held at Wolf Trap Farm Park, a pleasant outdoor theater surrounded by a 117-acre park. Professional sports events, including hockey, football, soccer, and basketball, are held year-round. The Potomac River offers canoeing, kayaking, and boating; a network of hiking trails along the river and Rock Creek Park attracts the serious hiker or jogger. The area is 1/2 hour from the Chesapeake Bay and about a 2-hour drive to the ocean beaches or to the Blue Ridge mountains and the Appalachian Trail.

Housing in the immediate vicinity or within easy cycling distance of NIH is readily available.

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This page last updated on 05/12/2020

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