Phlebotomy is the practice of drawing blood for medical reasons. Although many medical practitioners are well-versed in drawing blood, this process is typically done by a Phlebotomist. These professionals are able to draw blood with minimal discomfort to the patient as they know the exact locations of the veins. Due to the fact that bodies are very delicate and very prone to infection, the process of drawing blood should be done in a very careful manner to avoid contamination and spread of micro-organisms. Phlebotomists are trained on hygiene i.e. not to re-use needles and also to ensure that the patient is kept as comfortable as possible.
To qualify to become a phlebotomist, one is required to successfully complete education in 5 areas of study. They include: human anatomy, record keeping, medical safety, needle technique and patient rapport. These subjects equip one with the necessary skills aimed at promoting the integrity of this whole process and also for the safety of both the patient and the phlebotomist.
To become a phlebotomist one must have the necessary training and hands on experience. To be able to discharge these duties effectively, one has to use different tools and medical equipment. Some of them include dermal puncture devices, different sizes of needles, tourniquets, vacuum tubes, tapes and bandages, blood culture bottles, waste containers and more. Proper handling of these materials ensures that the health of the patient and that of the phlebotomist is taken care of.
One attains the title of a phlebotomist after undergoing either a 2-year associate’s degree or a 4-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited learning institution. There are also vocational training programs that are offered in some community colleges and hospitals that allow one to receive the necessary training in about one year’s time.
Some states require that their phlebotomists be certified for them to be allowed to practice. Therefore after graduating with a degree, one will still be expected to sit for another certification exam. The requirements for this exam may differ from state to state which makes it necessary to enquire with the states board to understand the requirements. This will help to ensure that one is able to finish the training within the shortest time period possible.
Phlebotomy is a crucial part of human health as it helps in diagnosis of various types of diseases. So many diseases have similar symptoms and the only way to ascertain what kind of infection one is suffering from is through blood testing. Phlebotomy has also made it easier to test blood sugar levels for people suffering from diabetes and also collecting blood samples to be used for DNA tests.
To become a phlebotomist and have access to this challenging, yet rewarding career, one must complete phlebotomy training courses and develop necessary skills and abilities that will allow him/her to work in reputable hospitals, clinics and healthcare facilities.
Phlebotomy training courses are offered by various institutions including mandated training for phlebotomy, technical schools, medical institutions and trade schools, yet it is recommended to attend classes in medical-based schools. In order to find the best schools and programs that will train you for this career, you can check with human resources departments from local hospitals and clinics. You can also try and find a school with a career department, so that you can find work easier once you’ve completed the training.
The basics of phlebotomy training include anatomy, psychology, biology, blood composition and CPR, while technical coursework includes blood collection procedures, capillary puncture, specimen handling, labeling and storing. Additional courses are also available for students who want to become familiar with laboratory procedures, hazardous materials handling and infection prevention.
Most phlebotomy training courses also cover knowledge on handling hazardous materials, as well as used needles, syringes, blood-culture bottles, dermal puncture devices and others of this type. Appropriate bedside manner and social skills are also a part of a successful phlebotomist’s abilities, as they have to ensure the patient’s comfort and ease at all times.
During training, aside from technical procedures, a student will also find out how to calm anxious patients and what techniques to employ in order to make the patient feel comfortable and stress-free. Patience and responsibility should be your greatest asset if you’re considering a career in this field!
While phlebotomy training is affordable, you must still be careful when selecting a school. Some institutions can provide lower costs, accreditation and job placement opportunities, so it’s a good to use these three criteria to narrow the search down. You can also take into account the duration of the training – while some training courses can be completed in a few months, others can last up to 2 years. Most importantly, make sure you the receive proper training and obtain the skills, knowledge and abilities you need to perform well.
After completing the phlebotomy training, most students opt for obtaining certification as a means of accessing better paid jobs and higher positions. While certification is not always obligatory for licensed phlebotomists, it is highly recommended you take certification courses to further your education and pursue a successful career in this challenging field.
Phlebotomy certification is not a legal requirement in most states, but obtaining it is a clear depiction of your passion and motivation towards this job. It tells the employer you are really dedicated and interested in pursuing a career as a professional phlebotomist and can also be a door-opener to better paying jobs and other interesting opportunities. The certification also allows the employer to be confident in your skills and capabilities.
Steps in Obtaining Phlebotomy Certification
- After you have decided to become a professional phlebotomist, it is necessary to complete a degree program that is accredited by legal institutions. As mentioned above, the training will most likely include anatomy, physiology, biology, blood sampling procedures, laboratory safety measures, CPR and other topics of interest. After the completion of each course, you will be required to take an exam and determine your level of expertise and skills.
- Gaining hands-on experience is essential for any individual who wants to pursue a career in this challenging field. At least 6 months of work experience as a phlebotomist is necessary to obtain certification. For example, some certifying organizations may require at least 120 hands-on training hours and 100 blood draws to prove your experience.
- The certification exam is the most important step in this process. The exam is standardized and there are plenty of study guides that can assist you in your learning, so you shouldn’t worry about its difficulty. It is important, though, to take each exam seriously if you want to further your education and develop the necessary skills.
Online certification courses are also available for people who are still keeping their day jobs or cannot attend classes due to financial or personal reasons. An online course is not that different from the conventional classroom experience and, contrary to common belief, the students will have the opportunity to practice in clinics and hospitals what they learn in class.
The phlebotomy certification test will most often include various aspects, such as the circulatory system, specimen collecting, specimen processing, non-blood specimen collecting and laboratory operations. It is also important to be aware of safety procedures and infection prevention.
Individuals are interested in obtaining phlebotomy certification for financial reasons also, since certified professionals have a better salary potential than others.
Phlebotomy Jobs & Salary
The salary and job outlook for phlebotomist’s is very promising, but it’s dependent on various factors. Phlebotomist will get receive higher pay if they are well trained by an accredited institution and if they are certified as phlebotomists. Secondly, some phlebotomists also get benefits and bonuses which when added to the yearly salary can be very promising. The job outlook of phlebotomist is also on a record high considering that phlebotomy only become popular 30 years ago.
According to the United States bureau of statistics, healthcare occupations account for twelve of the top 20 fastest growing professions in the United States. On the same note, the Bureau of labor statistics has projected the current growth in jobs that the healthcare industry is going through will continue until 2016. The growth rate of phlebotomy jobs is expected to be at a rate that is above average.
The majority of jobs in this sector are in hospitals and medical laboratories. However, there’s been a huge demand for phlebotomists in doctors’ offices, urgent care centers, college, professional schools, universities and clinics.
The salary of phlebotomists is dependent on various factors such as the region you are practicing, experience and level of training. An entry-level phlebotomist will typically earn an annual salary of $36,000. However, you can increase the salary by registering and passing a certification exam from the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Sciences.
Upon receiving certification the salary ranges between $47,000 and $74,000 annually. However, to be able to earn an annual salary of $74,000 you must reach the level of a supervisor. Another way of increasing your salary as a phlebotomist is securing a job in mobile collection services or other specialized laboratories.
Experience is the other main contributor for a phlebotomist salary. A phlebotomist who is experienced can earn a salary that is 30% higher than one who is just starting out. Phlebotomists who have attained a degree will get promotions which also mean a pay increase. Currently, in the US there is no standard pay across all states, therefore you will notice that some states usually pay higher than others.