Interested in Becoming a Phlebotomist?
A phlebotomist is someone who draws blood on patients in hospitals, blood donation centers, and outpatient laboratory settings. It is essential that phlebotomists be able to perform their job safely and with the least amount of pain possible for the patient. As such, this profession requires appropriate training.
There are many different types of educational programs available for those who are interested in phlebotomy, and choosing the right one can seem a daunting task for someone just starting out. If you are considering a career in phlebotomy, be sure you choose a curriculum that encompasses several basic principles and courses that will be essential to your job.
Anatomy and Physiology
In any field that deals with patient care, there should be a basic understanding of the structures of the body and how disease affects each. In phlebotomy, lab techs generally deal only with vascular anatomy and physiology, but it is a good idea to choose a program that teaches how blood disorders can disturb the natural body processes as a whole. A general anatomy and physiology class will cover all systems in the body and give the student a good understanding of how they work together to maintain a healthy, stable internal environment.
Learning the proper skin puncture and venipuncture techniques are an essential part of training to become a phlebotomist. The right phlebotomy program should provide extensive instruction on proper specimen collection and allow time for students to practice with needles so their skill may be perfected. Additionally, when collecting specimens, a phlebotomist needs to understand accurate record keeping, labeling and cataloging samples, and how very simple errors can create incorrect test results. Understanding how they can keep specimens from becoming contaminated is an essential part of a phlebotomist’s role in patient care.
Safe Blood Handling
With the threat of deadly blood-borne illnesses such as HIV, AIDS, and hepatitis, it is imperative that a phlebotomist know how to safely draw and handle blood samples. Any training program in phlebotomy should include significant coverage of this very important topic. In addition, proper disposal and destruction of used needles and other biohazardous products should be covered.
Professional Standards and Ethics
In any healthcare profession, there are very strict laws and regulations regarding the standards and ethics of patient care. HIPAA laws protect the privacy and security of patients, and it is imperative that a phlebotomist understand the importance of these very valuable rule sets. A good phlebotomy training program will cover these laws in-depth and will provide a phlebotomy student with a clear understanding of them.
When considering phlebotomy training programs that are right for you, it is necessary to be aware of all the available options. While curriculum will not be exactly the same in every program, most will offer hands-on tutelage in a lab setting. Any program of study you choose should allow you to graduate with all the knowledge needed to enter the work force as a practicing phlebotomist. In addition to the instruction listed above, you can also expect to take:
• Medical Terminology
• Introduction to Healthcare
• Diseases of the Human Body
Many phlebotomy training programs will allow for students to take part in a pre-graduation externship. This externship permits the student to put all the instruction they have learned in classes to work in a real world setting, and will help them to gain confidence in their ability.
Credentialing and Continuing Education
While certification of phlebotomists is not required in every state, after graduation you may want to consider sitting for a certification exam. These exams are offered by many different organizations and may help a phlebotomist to receive higher pay rates, help to gain accreditation of laboratories, and indicates that you are knowledgeable enough to meet and exceed the national criteria for other employees in the same profession. Upon obtaining certification, you will likely be responsible for maintaining the credentials by taking continuing education and paying associated fees.
Career Outlook for Phlebotomists
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for phlebotomists is around $30,000, and increase in this profession is stronger than the average for all occupations. As the number of laboratory tests performed each year grows, due in large part to a rise in the occurrence of illness and disease, so will the need for knowledgeable phlebotomists.
The phlebotomist plays a very important part in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. If you possess compassion, patience, good communication skills, and the desire to help others, you may want to consider this very rewarding career.