A career that may be worth exploring is becoming a phlebotomist, especially if you are someone who wants to help people and aren’t too squeamish around blood. A phlebotomy technician or phlebotomist’s role is to draw blood from patients for many reasons like medical tests or for insurance purposes. As a phlebotomist it’s very important to gather blood samples accurately as it is an essential aspect of the health care, treatment, and diagnosis of individuals. This article explores how to become a phlebotomist, and what their daily responsibilities and roles look like.
The Roles of a Phlebotomist
The main responsibilities of a phlebotomist can include, drawing blood for testing, conducting research, performing blood transfusions and assisting with or even running blood donation clinics and drives. As a phlebotomy technician you must be up for a challenge while being compassionate and responsible towards the patients. You will often be asked to explain the reasoning behind the tests, as well as providing comfort for nervous patients. All while performing the tasks accurately and precisely and being able to communicate with all types of people.
Some other typical responsibilities of a phlebotomist are not only drawing blood but bandaging the puncture site, taking blood pressure, taking a pulse, taking a temperature, and measuring oxygen levels. Also, keeping accurate patient records, maintaining a sterilized workspace and needed equipment, preparing and sending blood, urine, and fecal samples to the lab to be tested.
The average pay of a phlebotomist varies greatly depending on many factors such as, location of employment, the demand for trained phlebotomists, qualification, experience and education of the phlebotomist etc.… But the average salary is about $14.91 per hour.
Steps to take to become a phlebotomist
To become a phlebotomy technician, you must possess a basic understanding of verbal and written communication and understand basic math skills. Career paths can vary depending on your education and availability and many phlebotomy positions will provide extra training. You will still need to complete a phlebotomy training program, but this can be done in less than a year or a full year depending on the program and if you decide to get a national certification.
Depending on your individual circumstance, becoming a phlebotomist could look like this. First complete high school and/or receive your GED, find and enroll in a postsecondary phlebotomy training program and complete the training, receive your phlebotomy certification, and then begin your career.
1. High school diploma or GED requirements
In most cases, you will need certification from a postsecondary program to become a phlebotomist and to gain acceptance into these programs you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. In some instances, high schools offer a phlebotomy program and will allow you to begin working upon high school graduation.
2. Enrolling in a phlebotomy education program
The average phlebotomy program will take about a year to finish, and then you will be able to receive your professional certification. These programs are often offered through community colleges or a vocational tech school. They include lab-based courses that will teach you about medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology. You will also learn what you need to know to be able to take accurate blood samples and to provide quality care for the patients you will be working with, drawing blood from.
To successfully enroll in a program like this, you will need several things beforehand. Proof of high school diploma or GED as stated above. You will also need up to date immunization records, these are required when working in any medical setting. The health of the employees and patients is a priority in this field and being able to provide up to date shot records is needed to help protect people who might be immunocompromised, have compromised immune systems. Before you enroll you will also want a financial plan to pay for textbooks, tuition, fees, and a uniform if this is not included.
3. Obtaining a phlebotomy certification as a professional
You will be more likely to be hired as a phlebotomist with a certification, which can usually be obtained by completing an exam. Depending on the type of certification you are seeking, requirements for maintaining this certification vary but typically will ask for a fee and proof of continuing education each year.
Types of certifications are:
Registered Phlebotomy Technician
To obtain this certification you will be required to complete a phlebotomy program consisting of a minimum of 120 hours of coursework or 1,040 hours of training on-the-job that shows you have completed a minimum of 10 capillary punctures and 50 successful vein punctures. You will also need to remain in good standing once completing the exam and will need to renew every 3 years to remain a member. This certification is available through the American Medical Technologists.
Similarly, to obtain this certification you will need a high school diploma or GED. You will need to have completed an approved phlebotomy program, one years’ worth of work experience or a similar certificate. This certification is offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology.
Certified Phlebotomy Technician
This certification is obtained by successfully completing a 100-question exam and is renewed every two years. It is offered by the National Health Career Association.
Do I need anything else for employment?
The requirements will vary by the state you work in. but sometimes you will also need to maintain a license. You may need this extra requirement as a phlebotomist if you are working in an individual practice, clinic, or in a hospital
4. Get hired and start working
The options for employment as a phlebotomist are plentiful. There are multiple types of medical facilities in need of trained and professional phlebotomists such as hospitals, small/large clinics, blood donation companies, and laboratories. After you have applied for work and are hired, you will most likely receive more training to help you learn the specific requirements that come with that place of employment. There may be different or extra rules you will need to be informed of.
As follows are some answers to common questions that may arise as you plan your career as a phlebotomist.
When will I be able to earn an income as a phlebotomist?
The training programs are usually quite quick and can require anywhere from a one or two semester (four to eight months) time commitment. In this time, you will be prepared to work in various job settings and should be able to land a job fairly quickly after completion of the program.
What other skills will be required as a phlebotomist?
It's important to have a strong focus, high attention to detail, fine motor skills, and the ability to multitask on many projects at once like data entry and other subjects. You must also be an excellent communicator and good with people. As a phlebotomist you will be interacting with a diverse group of people and will need to show compassion to people who may be struggling with their health and other aspects of their life.
Once I’m certified will my certification expire?
Yes. The length of time between renewals will vary depending on the type of certification you receive, most need to be renewed every one to four years. It’s important to remain up to date and in good standing on your certifications to be able to remain a practicing phlebotomist.
A career as a phlebotomist can be very rewarding, as you get to interact with and help those in need. It can also be interesting and stimulating and good for someone who thrives in an active environment. Another benefit is the training is more affordable and takes less of a time commitment than some other health professions. All in all, a career phlebotomy can be a good choice for the right person.