For anyone who has ever had blood drawn from an employee who is not a register nurse, they have most likely been attended to by a Phlebotomist. Phlebotomy is an important occupation in today’s medical world. These specialists are often needed to help alleviate some of the workload put on the nursing staffs at hospitals and medical facilities, and drawing blood is a perfectly suited task to be handled by a trained specialist.
Responsibilities of a Phlebotomist
As mention above, the primary responsibility of a Phlebotomist is the drawing of blood for medical tests, research and blood/plasma donations. They are trained to effectively locate good veins and to perform the task of drawing blood as efficiently as possible. They are required to label and track specimens in an organized manner. They must also display good communication skills as they are often required to interact with patients while performing their duties.
How to Become a Phlebotomist
There are three primary requirements needed in order to become a Phlebotomist; education, certification and training. It is important to note that these requirements may vary from state-to-state and medical facility-to-medical facility. The following requirements are the ones most commonly found in most states and facilities throughout the country.
Education – A prospective Phlebotomist is required to attend a certification program in Phlebotomy. These programs are offered within vocational schools, junior colleges, four-year colleges and hospitals. Most of the non-degree programs last 6-12 months in duration. For individuals who want to specialize in certain aspects of the blood science industry, there are also Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree programs available. Course requirements include biology, anatomy, math, chemistry and medical terminology as well as technical training in the process of drawing blood.
Certification – Currently, there are only two states that require mandatory certification from a national board in order to draw blood. However, most medical facilities still require certification for its employees to draw blood due to insurance requirements from Medicare and for the safety of patients. There are several governing bodies that offer certification. The most popular ones are the American Medical Technologists, the National Center for Competency Testing and the American Society for Clinical Pathology. These boards require a high school education or GED equivalent, and an educational certificate from an accredited school or organization as well as some level of on the job training. The required test is multiple choice and must be passed in order to receive certification. Some boards also have a continuing education requirement.
On the Job Training – Before most certified Phlebotomists are allowed to draw blood unsupervised, they are usually required to have drawn blood 100-200 times using two-three different methods. As they advance in their careers, they may move on to become qualified to manage blood banks, do blood typing and perform and analyze certain tests on blood samples.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Phlebotomists around the country make an average salary of $29,730 per year. These salaries will tend to fluctuate based on the state, city or type of facility in which the Phlebotomist works. Salaries tend to be a little higher in hospitals than laboratories or blood banks due to the number of licensed Phlebotomist employed within each of those types of facilities.
Over the next 10 years, the BLS is predicting 27 percent growth within this industry. This number is higher than the anticipated national average of 11 percent for all occupations. This aggressive figure is attributed in large part to the continuing demands for blood analysis in order to provide diagnosis and research. Modern technology and an aging population are contributing factors as well to the overall need for this type of specialist. Also, the Affordable Care Act is providing insurance to more Americans which translates to more treatments and the need for more blood samples. Overall, this field of work should be considered very secure and rewarding.