Becoming a phlebotomist is an opportunity to explore the healthcare industry and get an insider perspective of how things work in hospitals and clinics. Like most healthcare professionals, you will be used to seeing blood, test tubes, needles, databases, blood vials and patients from different backgrounds. Of course, everybody has a specialty in a healthcare facility, and the job of a phlebotomist is to withdraw blood and ensure the right protocol is followed to the letter throughout the process. Like most entry-level healthcare positions, a phlebotomist occupation could be a stepping stone to advance your career through further experience and education. The most obvious reason for phlebotomists who want to advance their careers is to increase their annual income. Others just want a supervisory position and all the perks that come with it. Whatever the reason, what are the career-advancing opportunities you ought to consider as a phlebotomist?
If you love to travel and visit different places, then this occupation is perfect for you. Unlike most phlebotomists, you will not be tied down to a single hospital or a clinic. As a traveling phlebotomist, a big part of your job will involve visiting nursing homes or personal residences to perform venipuncture on the spot and transport the blood samples back to the lab for analysis. You can bet some of those patients will be nice to offer you tea, coffee or cookies as a welcoming gesture. Additionally, organizations such as Red Cross recruit traveling phlebotomists for blood drive campaigns. Occasionally, you may be requested to travel overseas to disaster-stricken locations to offer your services. Although the average salary of a traveling phlebotomist is $28,000 per year, the allowances and benefits are usually more compared to regular phlebotomists.
Donor Phlebotomy Technician (DPT)
Most blood collection centers are in constant need of donor phlebotomy technicians to specialize in collecting blood units from donors. The wage of a donor phlebotomy technician is higher compared to an entry-level phlebotomist. For instance, a DPT with five years’ experience is likely to earn at least $48,000 to $52,000. However, to become a donor phlebotomy technician, you need to successfully complete 25 donor collections and attain an experience form verified by your supervisor. On top of that, you also have to give out a letter of authenticity written by your supervisor or laboratory manager. The last straddle is to complete the DPT certification examination. Well, it will only cost you $125, and it can be done through the ASCP.
Medical Lab Technician (MLT)
If you’re a phlebotomist, taking blood samples to the laboratory for testing is part of your routine. You even put the blood vials in the centrifuge to isolate the blood cells and plasma. Moreover, sometimes phlebotomists classify the blood tubes according to the type of tests needed. During such visits, it is normal for phlebotomists to develop curiosity in analyzing blood samples and other body fluids, but only a medical lab technician is allowed to do that job. The good news is that a phlebotomist can become a medical lab technician through further education. All you need to do is complete an Associate’s degree and enroll in an accredited MLT training program.
Want to move up the ladder to a supervisory role? A phlebotomist supervisor is a right role for you. However, most employers prefer a phlebotomist supervisor with a Bachelor’s degree and a few years of experience. Although it is an oversight position, you will be held responsible if your team messes up. Hence, a phlebotomist supervisor must ensure other phlebotomist technicians do their job well and monitor the necessary safety regulations. Apart from increased allowances, the salary of a phlebotomist supervisor is also drastically higher.
Most phlebotomists find it easy to transition to a registered nurse since both professions work closely in healthcare centers. In fact, when phlebotomists don’t see a vein in a patient, they usually seek a nurse for assistance. Not to mention the experience, skills, and knowledge that you acquire on the job will make it easier for you to become a registered nurse. The only difference is that a registered nurse doesn’t deal exclusively with drawing blood. Once you’re sure you want to become a registered nurse, you can enroll for a diploma course offered by a hospital or an accredited nursing program. However, an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in nursing will expose you to more opportunities and versatility. Regardless, you can still start with a diploma and slowly progress to an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree level.
The career advancement path to follow as a phlebotomist is all up to you. Remember, the more experienced you become, the easier it will be to advance your career. Of course, some occupations will require further education or training, but eventually, it will be worth it.