Skilled medical professionals are getting harder and harder to find in today, and phlebotomists are no exception. Phlebotomists are trained medical technicians who draw a patient’s blood for blood donations, medical tests, blood transfusions, research or other procedures. Phlebotomists work with patients, nurses, doctors, and hospital and clinic staffs. They may also be called upon to perform administrative duties such as doing reports, bookkeeping or answering telephones.
What they do
Phlebotomists draw tubes of blood from their patients. Even though this might sound like an easy thing to do, being a Phlebotomist actually has a wide variety of requirements. Not only do phlebotomists have to know where to draw from and how to blood accurately and safely draw it, they also have to know how to keep from contaminating the samples, maintain safety and accuracy in the lab, and keep a soothing manner to help nervous patients with their fear needles.
Phlebotomist training will give students an all encompassing understanding of the profession and expose them to the many situations that they might come across. They must know how to draw blood from patients from all socioeconomic groups, races, ages and backgrounds. They must know the best way to draw blood from patients who are in ill health, who have communicable diseases, and who are in extreme pain.
Phlebotomy classes last from eight to 12 months, depending on the requirements of the school and the state. Course work will be made up of a mixture of classroom instruction and actual clinical training. In some states, schools offer a two-year program, which gives students a well-rounded education and grants an Associate Degree.
Students take an intense course in human anatomy, are taught a variety of techniques for finding a vein in different types of patients, and learn an understanding of medical laboratory administration. For students who are planning to work for a blood bank, laboratory, hospital or clinic, certification in phlebotomy will be required. Once the student has completed and passed phlebotomists training requirements and met their specific state requirements, they can apply for and take the certification exam. After passing the exam, they can apply for certification.
When planning a career in phlebotomy, there are several things to consider. Interested people can take classes at a local community college, or, depending on their learning style, they might want to explore what opportunities are available in education online. Be sure to research the requirements for each state regarding the need for clinical experience, and understand how an online program will provide arrangements for that part of their education.
Interested individuals need to either graduate from high school or pass the General Education Development exam before enrolling in phlebotomists training. They also need to be at least 18 years old. Most schools will also require that future students do not to have any contagious diseases, be current on all of their vaccinations. They must also be able to pass a drug test and a background check.
Future students will also want to look into the specific requirements for their state as the requirements vary greatly. For instance, in California, there is are several layers in the certification system that includes Phlebotomy Technician, Phlebotomy Technician I, and Phlebotomy Technician II. Florida and Louisiana have no specific certification requirements for their phlebotomists.
Future phlebotomists should also look into which specific organization provides certification for phlebotomists in their state, and then thoroughly research the requirements for its certification. The American Society for Clinical Pathology, the American Society for Phlebotomy Technicians, and the National Phlebotomy Association are just three of the organizations in the U.S. that certify professionals in the field.
It is important that students understand the specific requirements which organization is best suited to their needs. Keep in mind that not all program offerings are accredited by all of the certifying organizations. Requirements for accreditation vary, and the learning institution determines the certifications for which it will apply. Before anyone commits to a program, find out if the program has the appropriate credentials as required by the certifying body in the state.
The phlebotomy certification exam is usually a written exam, though more schools and organizations are going to an electronic exam which is taken on a computer. When the exam is taken on the computer, the test uses a program which determines the next question based on the answer to the last one. Bear in mind that there are online practice exams available as well as preparatory courses to help students get ready for the certification exam.
Once they become certified, each Phlebotomist is responsible for the required continuing education in order to keep abreast of the developments and trends in the profession and keep their certification up-to-date.