Phlebotomists collect blood from patients in order for the laboratory to test for a variety of health conditions.
How to Become a Phlebotomist
Step One. Earn a High School Diploma or GED
Earning a high school diploma or GED is a prerequisite for enrolling in a phlebotomy training program.
Step Two. Complete a Training Program
Students must be at least 18 years of age to enroll in a phlebotomy training program. Most offer a short-term certificates and take tweleve months or less to complete. Programs are found community colleges and technical schools, and the curriculum often includes classes such as Medical Terminology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Blood Collection Techniques. Students also participate in a clinical practicum near the end of their training. It takes place at a medical facility, and it’s meant to provide students with valuable hands-on training under a phlebotomist’s supervision.
Step Three. Certification
Only phlebotomists who work in California (also requires licensure), Louisiana, and Nevada must obtain certification in order to practice. Those working in other states should become certified as most employers only hire those who have a credential. There are several phlebotomy organizations such as the American Medical Technologist (AMT), the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). The accepted organizations vary by state, which means aspiring phlebotomists should contact their state’s health or occupational licensing department before applying to take an examination.
What kind of questions are on the exam?
No matter which exam one takes, questions will be similar to the following:
- What is the most effective way for phlebotomists to prevent the spread of infection?
- What color-topped tube is used for a lab test that requires serum?
- What does hemolysis mean?
- What is the first course of action when a patient won’t allow you to draw their blood?
- What is the proper procedure if a patient develops a large hematoma during a venipuncture?
- What is the medical term for fainting?
- The abbreviation CSF stands for?
- Any area or object that has become uncleaned is referred to as?
- Proper cleaning of a venipuncture site is done with a circular motion from the center site to the?
- What is a nosocomial infection?
Step Four. Employment
Once the above steps are complete, it’s time to seek a position at a hospital, clinical laboratory, or a diagnostic lab. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, phlebotomists should see a twenty-seven percent job growth from 2012 to 2022, and the mean annual salary for this profession was $31,410 in 2013.
Questions an employer may ask during an interview are:
- What is your professional experience?
- What are your skills and qualifications for this position?
- What do you think the roles and responsibilities of a phlebotomist are?
- Why did you decide to become a phlebotomist?
- How would you identify a patient?
- What would you do if you saw an unpleasant exchange between a colleague and a patient?
- How would you collect a blood sample from an infant?
- Are you comfortable performing venipuncture procedures?
- How would you describe yourself?
- What will you do if a patient is a difficult draw?
- What if you cannot find a vein?
- What phlebotomy certification do you hold?
Phlebotomists have many day-to-day responsibilities such as:
- Drawing blood from arteries
- Collecting fluid or tissue samples
- Transporting specimens to the lab
- Conducting a hemoglobin test to confirm a donor’s iron levels are normal
- Explaining fluid or tissue collection procedures to patients and answering questions
- Making sure all instruments are sterile
- Entering patient, specimen, and other information into a computer
- Monitoring both blood and plasma donors during and after the procedures
Becoming a phlebotomist is very rewarding. If you’re interested in learning more about a phlebotomist’s role, or about the training programs, please contact us.