People who want to improve their career prospects often look at the health care field, and phlebotomy is one of the most popular choices for entry-level health care professionals.
Phlebotomists are health care professionals who specialize in drawing blood for blood tests, research, transfusions and blood donations. Many phlebotomists need to be able to explain what they are doing to each patient and offer assistance if patients suffer any adverse reactions after blood is drawn.
The most common duties that phlebotomists do on a daily basis include:
- Drawing blood from blood donors and patients
- Discuss procedures with patients and help them to feel more comfortable with the procedure
- Verify identity of patients to ensure blood is labeled properly
- Enter patient data into computer
- Put together and maintain medical instruments, such as test tubes, needles and blood vials
The role of phlebotomist is very important in all health care organizations. This health care professional is responsible for ensuring that blood drawing equipment has been sanitized before it is used. Also, all blood samples must be carefully labeled, stored properly and transported safely.
Why Become a Phlebotomist?
The job of phlebotomist is an entry level healthcare position that allows you to gain experience in the rapidly growing world of healthcare, and it only takes a year or so of education can start working. This provides many workers with an excellent opportunity to get into a booming career field and start earning money relatively quickly.
Also, the employment of these professionals is set to increase by 25% by 2024, which is much faster than average. There is little doubt that as demand for health care services rise, there will be more need for phlebotomists to do blood work in blood donor centers, laboratories, and many other locations.
Blood analysis is one of the most important functions today of medical labs and hospitals. It is upon the analysis of blood samples that many health care interventions in the 21st century are based. It is fully expected that demand for these health care workers will rise as more doctors order blood work on patients for diagnosis and analysis.
In terms of pay, the field of phlebotomy also is a good choice because you can earn a decent salary with a relatively small amount of education. The median salary for this field as of May 2015 was $31,630, with the top 10% with the most experience earning $45,000 per year.
Earning Your Phlebotomy Certification
Most phlebotomists earn a certification from a phlebotomy program, and virtually all employers will look for a phlebotomist who has earned their professional certification. Phlebotomists will usually earn their certification in the field from a local community college, vocational school or a technical school.
The majority of phlebotomy programs may be completed in less than a year and result with the earning of a certificate or diploma. After you graduate from your program, you will then need to earn your professional certification from one of several certification organizations, which include the following:
- National Center for Competency Testing
- National Healthcareer Association
- American Society for Clinical Pathology
- American Medical Technologists
To be a candidate for certification, you will need to have finished your certification program and have some supervised clinical experience. Most certification tests are a written examination, but some may have clinical components, including the drawing of blood. Note that the states of CA, LA, NV and WA require that all phlebotomists be certified to work in those states.
When you are ready to take your certification examination, you should contact the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians to locate a testing center in your area.
Overview of Phlebotomy Program
Some of these programs can be completed in three months, and others may take closer to a year.
Typical classes that are required for a phlebotomy certification program include:
- CPR and First Aid
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Medical Terminology
- Introduction to Laboratory and Communication
- Clinical Externship
There are some local colleges that will offer a two year, Associate of Applied Science degree in phlebotomy. To be eligible for this type of program, you will need to have your high school diploma or GED. For example, Stratford University offers such an associate’s degree program that you can earn in approximately two years.
How and Where to Seek Your Phlebotomy Training
Virtually all of the phlebotomy certification programs in the US are taught onsite at community and vocational colleges. Before you start your training, you should determine what the exact requirements are for the state you plan to work in. Doing so will ensure that you know how many classes you must take and how much field experience you need before you take the certification examination.
Below are some options for earning your certificate or degree in phlebotomy:
Pima Medical Institute
Pima Medical Institute has locations all over the US near major cities that will allow you to earn your certificate on only three months.
As with most of these programs, one of the most challenging parts of earning your certification is when you perform your clinical externship. You will be mentored directly by professionals in phlebotomy who will supervise your work and show you how to become a highly professional healthcare worker in this field.
Where you will get your clinical externship will depend upon which city you are in, but you could work in a hospital, doctor’s office, clinic or pharmacy.
You should be able to locate a phlebotomy program for certification at one of your community or vocational colleges in your community. For example, Del Mar College in Texas offers a Phlebotomy Technician Training Program that may be completed in three months.
This program consists of only two courses. You may need to take other courses in your program, but at Del Mar, these are the courses required for you to work in the field:
- Phlebotomy Lecture and Lab: You will learn in this program the many types of blood collection methods, and will learn how to do them with the appropriate techniques and precautions. Some of the materials that are covered include vacuum collection products, syringes, capillary skin puncture, butterfly needles and blood culture. You also will learn how to perform specimen collection on children, adults and infants.
- Phlebotomy Clinical: This is a work-based clinical externship that will have you apply your skills, concepts and theory that you learned in lecture and lab. Direct supervision is done by your clinical site mentor. You are required to finish 100 hours of clinical training with at least 100 blood collections done successfully without assistance.
There are limited online options for earning a phlebotomist certification, given the nature of the work. However, there are online programs that will teach you the basic skills that are needed to be a successful phlebotomist, coupled with appropriate clinical training at your job site or clinical site. These online programs also are suitable for phlebotomist students who want to obtain more practice for the certification examination.
Becoming a certified phlebotomist is a solid career choice because there is very strong job demand for years to come, and you can begin working and earning a salary after only a few months of education.