In the United States, each state has different requirements to become a registered phlebotomist. Some states require no formal certification while others have stringent requirements. However, many medical institutions, regardless of location, will seek out certified technicians. This article will examine a few different cases on how to pursue certification as a phlebotomist, which generally takes between 12 weeks and one year, depending on the program.
For many of the states that require certification, the mandated procedure to become a registered phlebotomist commonly includes a number of similar steps:
• GED or high school transcripts
• Proof of 40+ hours of classroom instruction at an accredited institution
• Proof of 40+ hours of practical training at an accredited institution
• Proof of 50+ venipunctures and 10+ skin punctures
This state certification is often valid for a two-year period and can be renewed only with proof of six hours of continuing education.
To find a phlobotomy program, an internet search along with one’s home address will generally provide a wealth of options for training in one’s area. When searching for a phlebotomy program, it is first essential to find out if they are accredited or not. Schools for phlebotomists are accredited by a number of institutions including the American Credentialing Agency, American Society for Clinical Pathology’s Board of Certification, American Medical Technologists, National Health Career Association, National Center for Competency Testing, and the American Association of Medical Assistants. Once a program has been verified as accredited, examining the cost is necessary. Generally, a program may charge between $1000 and $2000, followed by a license test fee that costs between $50 and $100.
On the path to becoming a fully-certified phlebotomist, many interesting classes are generally included in part of the training. Though it may not first come to mind when considering training in phlebotomy, many programs include a few classes on communication skills, which are essential for interaction with patients that may be weary about the use of needles. Additionally, there are many new medical terms for unpracticed phlebotomy candidates that will need to be addressed in the classroom setting. The curriculum will often include a specific guide to the classification of patients and how to deal with them based on their status as an outpatient, inpatient, or patient in an emergency situation. A class will likely be included on how to work within a medical team and the position of the phlebotomist in the larger scheme of a hospital, clinic, or other health care situation. Professional behavior, dress, and interaction is commonly addressed during one or more sessions. Good programs will review the best methods to secure a job as a phlebotomist including how to search for employment, application creation, and a review of interview practices. A unit focused on legal issues in health care will likely occupy a hefty portion of the curriculum. In addition to all of the skills focused on in general health care, programs will also review math, basic science, anatomy, physiology, and chemistry, as well as a section centered on blood pathology. The lab portion will include the analysis of a blood specimen and its proper care. Finally, as part of the practicum, the program will include instruction and practice of safe venipuncture, skin puncture, and patient care, clear essentials in the field of phlebotomy.
For many who desire to begin on the career path of a phlebotomist, it makes sense to start with a certification program in phlebotomy. It means a starting salary higher than the common averages and much better job prospects in this specific technical field, which is often very valuable to employers. Further, beginning as a certified phlebotomist may allow one to pursue additional technical certifications in other concentrations resulting in higher pay and a more prestigious position in a health care institution.
However, some may not want to spend the six months to one year time to become a certified phlebotomist. The cost may be too high and an individual may wish to get their foot in the door before setting out on an expensive investment for a specific role. Phlebotomy may ultimately not be for everyone, especially those that find difficulty in dealing with blood and illness.
Overall, there are many things to consider when pursuing a career in phlebotomy. First, one must decide if a certification program is worth the investment and time. Then, searching for schools requires research into the institutions’ accreditation as well as their curriculum for phlebotomy certification including whether it will produce the results required for completion of the certification in one’s state. Ultimately, one must decide how much to invest in a future of phlebotomy and weigh whether the temporary sacrifice is worth the long-term benefits.