Phlebotomists draw blood and are necessary members of medical staff at hospitals, health clinics, blood donation centers and other healthcare facilities. In Massachusetts, some colleges and the Red Cross offer phlebotomy classes. Course completion time can vary depending upon the school or agency offering the program, but studies can be completed in as little as eight weeks. Those who complete the course may receive a certificate and can begin working as a phlebotomist immediately.
Because the field is not regulated, phlebotomy educational requirements vary by state. Potential phlebotomists in Massachusetts should look for a course that includes classroom as well as clinical instruction so they get hands-on experience. In addition to paying the course fees, new students must pass a physical and a background check. Students must also have up-to-date immunizations, a high school diploma or G.E.D. and liability or malpractice insurance. Students may be required to pass an assessment exam before acceptance into a phlebotomy program.
During phlebotomy classes, students will learn proper techniques necessary to draw blood and other samples, including venipuncture and dermal puncture. They will learn how to prepare the area where the sample will be drawn and how to take care of the area after it has been punctured. Study topics will also include equipment, additives, requirements for collecting and transporting lab specimens, ethics, safety and regulatory requirements, infection control and medical terminology. In addition to classroom studies, phlebotomy programs with a clinical component with include proper handling of specimens, how to deal with complications and how to properly dispose of needles. Once this process is complete, students are ready for a career as a phlebotomist.
While a phlebotomist’s main duty is to draw blood for testing, donations or transfusions, there are many other duties required of them. One is to collect tissue or fluid samples. Another is to try to keep patients calm during the sample collection process. Other duties include verifying the patient’s identity and making sure the correct name is placed on the proper sample.
Once collected and labeled, a phlebotomist may be required to transport the sample to a laboratory. Phlebotomists must also clean, organize and maintain their work area, needles, vials, test tubes and other medical equipment necessary for their job. Another phlebotomist duty is to properly dispose of items used to collect samples as well as unused or unnecessary blood or fluids samples. Some employers may require phlebotomists to enter patient information into a computer.
Although Massachusetts and most other states do not require phlebotomists to be certified, it is required by many employers. There are many agencies offering phlebotomy certification through written exams and practical elements such as drawing blood. Some agencies also require work experience and continuing education coursework for those seeking certification.
Phlebotomist Salary in Massachusetts
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, phlebotomists’ salary range is between $21,340 and $42,600 per year, with the average salary being $29,730. The Bureau also reports phlebotomy is a growing field with employment expected to increase 27 percent by 2022. Phlebotomists who are certified typically earn more than those who are not certified.