Trained Phlebotomists perform a very important function within the medical industry. They are a vital conduit to getting specimens to the laboratory for testing so that medical professionals can make accurate diagnosis. While nurses and doctors are certainly able to perform this function, time constraints make it more practical for a trained individual to handle the process. Phlebotomists are also important to the blood donation industry where blood needs to be drawn quickly and efficiently to help provide resources for blood banks and for medical research.
The process of drawing blood is much more involved than most people realize. A phlebotomist begins their day by making sure any necessary equipment and machinery is clean and operating at full capacity. They are required to assists patients and explain the blood drawing process prior to the event. They are trained to draw blood via venipuncture, arterial puncture and capillary puncture based on what the blood is going to be used for and by whom. In blood banks, complicated equipment is used to draw blood and phlebotomists must be trained on such equipment. They are required to properly label, control specimens until dispursal and keep accurate patient records. Finally, they need to be proficient in dealing with patients both before and after the process to assure the patients are safe, comfortable and patient confidentiality is protected.
Requirement Necessary to Become a Phlebotomist in Missouri
While a license to draw blood is not required by law in Missouri, almost all hospitals, blood banks and medical facilities require certification prior to being hired. This requirement is in place for the protection of the patients and to meet requirements handed down by insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The following steps outline the normal path to becoming a certified phlebotomist.
Education – In order to earn a Certificate, the licensing boards require specific education requirement be met. Programs for phlebotomy training are available through hospital programs, vocational school or community. Most of these programs require a high school diploma or GED equivalent prior to acceptance into the program. Most programs can be completed within 4-6 months. Course study includes mathematics, anatomy, CPR, blood collection techniques, medical terminology, medical ethics, patient interaction and record keeping techniques. Some top educational programs in Missouri that offer phlebotomy programs include St. Louis Community College, Metropolitan Community College, Franklin Technology Center and Myles Institute of Medical Science and Business. Tuition ranges from approximately $500-$2,500, depending on the school.
Certification Process – After completing an accredited phlebotomy training program, prospective phlebotomists need to contact one of the national certification boards to determine the board’s requirements. In Missouri, certification is available through the American Society for Clinical Pathology, National Phlebotomy Association and American Medical Technologists. Each board requires some level of on-the-job-training prior to the exam. The American Society for Clinical Pathology currently requires each candidate work for one year in an accredited laboratory or to have performed a specific amount (100) of blood drawing procedures. Once the educational and on-the-job-training requirements have been met, the candidate is eligible to apply and sit for the exam at the designated time. Upon passing the exam, the candidate earns their certificate, which is widely accepted in most medical operations and blood banks throughout the state. Some hospitals may require some level of continuing education from its employees, but the certification boards do not currently have a requirement.
Salary and Job Prospects
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a phlebotomists in the United States is $30,150 per year based on 2012 data. Missouri salaries fall right in line with the national average. As a typically salaried position, it is reasonable for licensed phlebotomists to expect full benefits. Of course, that depends on the employment guidelines of each individual medical facility. Salaries may vary a bit based on type and location of the medical facility. Hospitals tend to pay a little higher than clinics and blood banks, and rural areas may pay a little higher than large metropolitan areas dues to availability of certified phlebotomists.
Job prospects for this occupation are very bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 27% growth in the number of phlebotomists between the years 2012-2022. The projection is based on the anticipated increase in healthcare recipients due to an aging and growing population and the increasing need for blood specimens to continue important medical testing associated with diseases and nutrition. The implementation of The Affordable Care Act of 2009 (ACA) will also result in more individuals qualifying for and seeking healthcare, which will lead to a growth in laboratory testing.