Phlebotomists, also known as phlebotomy technologists, are medical experts mainly in charge of taking blood samples from patients to facilitate diagnostics and treatment. They also sometimes handle other specimens from patients, such as urine, hair, or stool. A phlebotomist requires postsecondary non-degree training that lasts less than a year and a continuously updated certificate.
These specialists are crucial to the healthcare industry, and most healthcare facilities need them significantly. The US Labor Statistics Bureau (BLS) reports that the growth rate for phlebotomy is an astounding 17% to 22%, making it a solid career path.
An average of 21,500 openings for phlebotomists are projected for each year this decade. Additionally, experience in phlebotomy can increase employment opportunities across the medical sector.
This article will help you know more about pursuing a career in phlebotomy.
What Does a Phlebotomist Do?
A career in phlebotomy allows workers to draw blood in healthcare facilities and hospitals and even qualifies them for specialty occupations. It is an essential and unavoidable procedure in any clinical institution. In addition, some phlebotomists work at blood banks, responsible for the safety, comfort, and entertainment of donors who provide life-saving fluids.
In addition to labeling biological samples, phlebotomists develop experience using needles and other equipment to draw blood and enter medical data into databases. Phlebotomy technicians must hold high standards and carry out their duties carefully and safely since they deal with sensitive biological samples.
Phlebotomists often travel to different medical care facilities or blood donation banks. A situation may arise where patients need blood drawn for testing while confined to their homes. The hospital or establishment may also assign phlebotomists to help set up mobile donation centers. As a result, phlebotomists must be ready to travel frequently and efficiently.
Some of the critical duties of a phlebotomist are as follows.
- Help with blood transfusion procedures.
- Sterilize vials, needles, and other tools to collect blood.
- Observe all health and safety regulations and infection control protocols when handling patients and equipment.
- Verify the identity of patients and their data.
- Determine the best venipuncture technique and find the draw site for each patient according to age, health, etc.
- Reassure patients, outline the procedure, and answer any questions about it.
- Prepare samples for delivery to a testing facility or blood bank by labeling and storing them.
- Prepare patients for giving blood by sterilizing the skin, getting the proper blood pressure by adding a tight band, etc.
- Collaborate with and manage the other medical staff.
- Keep track of essential details and obtain patient consent for insurance purposes.
- Get hold of billing data, copies of insurance cards, and other data from the patient.
Who Can Become a Phlebotomist?
Phlebotomy offers a great entry point into the medical profession if you consider expanding into other healthcare-related fields.
The primary method phlebotomists use to draw blood is called venipuncture. As the name implies, it involves puncturing a vein. Therefore, you should feel at ease handling blood and needles. Effectively placing a needle into a vein on the first try is just as important as having good hand-eye coordination.
For phlebotomists, accuracy and safety are crucial abilities. You must draw blood in the appropriate amounts for the necessary number of tests. You must collect, track, and record it accurately into a database. It would help if you took great care to avoid combining or labeling samples inappropriately.
Phlebotomists must also possess a calm and sympathetic nature. Getting blood taken may seem like a painful experience packed with anticipation and fear for many patients. So, it would help if you made them feel at ease. Most phlebotomists work full-time.
Here are some essential qualities you must possess to become a phlebotomist.
- Close attention to detail
- Good hand-eye coordination
- Prowess at data entry tasks
- The ability to manage several tasks simultaneously
- Excellent communication skills with people all kinds of people
- A strong sense of empathy for those who are struggling in life
- Sensitivity and sympathy for the anxiety and terror that some people experience when having their blood collected
- Enough physical health and stamina to sustain long periods of standing and quick movement from one department to another within a medical institution.
Steps to Become a Phlebotomist
Any profession, especially one involving blood collection, requires the appropriate education and training. Working in phlebotomy for the same business or hospital network may result in a consistent pay increase and a reliable, full-time position in a highly sought-after industry.
Phlebotomists frequently decide to seek further healthcare qualifications. They may find employment as medical technicians, physician’s assistants, or nurses. Being able to start working as a phlebotomist and continue working while pursuing part-time study is one benefit of having high-demand employment. It helps expand your medical and healthcare qualifications and abilities to further your career in the field.
The training for phlebotomists is reasonably rapid. Your new job will get off to a perfect start after you choose a school and complete an authorized phlebotomy program.
Here are steps to becoming a phlebotomist and starting your career in the healthcare industry.
Step 1: Finish Your High School or Get a GED
You may work in this field without a college degree, which is one of the most attractive features of choosing this career. A high school diploma or GED is all you require to get enrolled in a phlebotomy training program.
After high school, health, science, and psychology courses are recommended for students who want to pursue this career.
However, depending on the recognized training course you select, you might not necessarily need to take these lessons. If you have not graduated high school yet, you can begin your journey toward becoming a phlebotomist by finishing any unfinished coursework and completing the GED exam. Depending on your state, you may obtain a GED for up to $150.
Step 2: Enroll in a Phlebotomy Training Program
Some states do not mandate phlebotomy education or professional certification, but it will be more difficult for you to get work without either. Once you complete your high school diploma or GED, you may enroll in a short phlebotomy program leading to a certificate.
Community colleges, technical institutions, and vocational schools offer accredited phlebotomy courses. Many enroll in programs as adults after a gap or while pursuing other occupations. Depending on the school you pick, it usually takes less than a year to become a phlebotomist.
Evidence of graduation, a minimum GPA, CPR certification, vaccination records, and passing a background check are often necessary for enrolling in phlebotomy programs.
In a phlebotomy program, students learn the right and safe venipuncture techniques. Anatomy, medical terminology, and physiology instruction are frequently part of these programs. Instructional activities must include both classroom and lab time.
Before attending, students must search for a program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). The NAACLS website lists over 60 phlebotomy programs accredited nationally.
Step 3: Get Certified
Some regions do not demand an active phlebotomy certification to work as a phlebotomist. But getting a certificate is essential because many businesses prefer it and only hire people with the proper credentials. In addition, certification can help phlebotomy students stand out from the competition when applying for jobs right out of school.
Numerous healthcare organizations, such as the American Medical Technologists, the National Center for Competency Testing, and the National Healthcareer Association, provide professional certifications. Your school or training center could know the certification required in your region.
If you wish to receive professional certification in another state, you have to search for it in that particular state. Before getting certified, you will often have to take a test and complete a practical assignment or clinical hours.
Once you get the certification, you must keep it current and active. Requirements might change, but they often involve paying an annual fee and completing continuing education.
Depending on the testing organization, different students may be eligible to take various certification exams. A phlebotomy program can provide certification at one of three levels as follows.
Limited Phlebotomy Technician (LPT) – If you get this, you are certified to draw blood by skin puncture.
Certified Phlebotomy Technician I (CPT I) – By obtaining this certification, you can do venipuncture and skin punctures for blood collection.
Certified Phlebotomy Technician II (CPT II) – With this certification, you are qualified to do skin punctures, venipunctures, and artery punctures for blood collection.
The certification test often has up to 300 questions. It is divided into a written and a practical component where you will have to show that you can draw blood, label samples, sterilize equipment and perform other essential tasks. The specific requirements for the tests may vary by certifying organization.
As a phlebotomist, you should feel at ease dealing with the needs of all types of individuals. You should possess a calm mind and excellent physical health. You should also be a superb communicator and pay close attention to detail.
Phlebotomy positions are lucrative and in demand, especially long-term care and home health positions. Employment for phlebotomists is projected to rise significantly across the USA between 2020 and 2030, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
A significant number of additional jobs are expected to be created for phlebotomists in sectors including hospitals, medical and diagnostic labs, ambulatory healthcare, doctor’s offices, and outpatient care facilities.