As careers related to health care continue to grow, phlebotomists can look forward to job security. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the broader field of clinical laboratory technicians should grow about 27% in the next decade. The demand for phlebotomists has grown as more clinics and hospitals rely on experts who work exclusively with drawing blood.
Qualifications for phlebotomists vary from state to state. While some states require a phlebotomist certification and/or a degree, no specific training program or certification is required in South Dakota. Many phlebotomists in SD get started through on-the-job training programs.
While the job description of a phlebotomist deals with four basic areas, a high level of expertise is crucial. A mistake could compromise the safety of the technician, co-workers and patients. Mishandling samples can cause contamination with the potential of spreading blood borne pathogens.
Preparing and maintaining equipment and supplies is one of the duties of a phlebotomist. The technician must be proficient in arterial and capillary punctures, performing venipunctures, and collecting other fluids. All specimens must be clearly labeled with identification. Prior to, during and after the procedure, the worker needs to assist the patient. When the other steps are complete, a phlebotomist must document results, keep records, and keep patient records confidential.
In addition to the basic duties, other responsibilities can be assigned. Tests ranging from urine samples to electrocardiograms (EKG) s or taking and monitoring blood pressure can be another responsibility. Typically (depending on state regulations) phlebotomists follow the orders of the physician in charge. From a legal perspective, drastic differences exist depending on state law.
For example, while SD has no official formal requirements for phlebotomists, California is strictly regulated. A law passed stipulating a minimum of 40 hours of training from a certified school, plus 40 hours of practice. Practice must include 50 venipunctures and 10 skin punctures. Candidates must pass the national exam. Certified Phlebotomy Technicians (CPT)s need 6 hours credit from an approved lab every two years. Their job description is very detailed.
In CA phlebotomist are placed into three classifications. A limited phlebotomy technician can collect blood from skin punctures only. A CPT I can do skin punctures and venipunctures and a CPT II qualifies to do skin puncture, venipuncture, and arterial puncture. Obviously, the difference in requirements between SD and CA are drastic. The salaries match. CA phlebotomists are at the top end of the pay scale with an average salary of $45,000.
For those interested in certification as a phlebotomist or earning a degree in a related medical field in SD, the University of South Dakota (USD) or vocational schools like Lake Area Institute offer appropriate classes.
Phlebotomy Schools in South Dakota
Located in Watertown, SD, Lake Area Institute is a two-year school. Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), the program combines theory and hands-on experience. After successfully completing classes to become a medical laboratory technician, students receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in less than two years. In addition to on-line classes, other trade schools in SD also offer phlebotomy classes.
USD, in Vermillion, SD has several colleges and graduate schools under its umbrella of services. The School of Medicine conducts research and advanced classes to train prospective medical doctors while the School of Health Sciences provides programs in specialties like medical lab technician. Training as a phlebotomist is part of the technician program. USD teaches the medical lab tech program in separate units. Classes within units include practical phlebotomy, performing the finger stick technique to obtain capillary blood specimens, basic computer skills, laboratory best practices, venipuncture practices and managing a puncture site after drawing blood. Students study physiology and human anatomy. All classes in each unit must be completed successfully to get certified.
For those who don’t have the funds or would rather avoid student loans, no academic requirements can be a financial relief. But, the lack of a required education can end up as a negative when it comes to salary. Phlebotomists in SD average only $26,000 per year. Statistics from the US Bureau of Labor estimate the national average ranges from $31,000 to $39,000 depending on the type and size of the medical facility and the geographic location.
Working in the same professional environment with registered nurses, physician’s assistants and doctors allows technicians an inside look at the skills and commitment required for those careers. While a phlebotomist must know all the technical aspects of drawing blood, people skills are also needed in order to succeed. A friendly personality and the ability to work well with people is an important aspect of the job.
Phlebotomists work in hospitals, labs, wellness centers, clinics and blood banks. They learn about drawing blood and the procedures used in laboratory tests, medical studies, blood transfusions and all aspects of blood work. Many phlebotomists earn an associates or bachelor’s degree in a medical field related to their specialty.
Although some states and organizations have versions of phlebotomy certifications, the National Phlebotomy Association and the American Society for Phlebotomy Technicians offer national certifications. Sample practice tests are available on line or at school