If you’re thinking about a career in the medical field, you may be wondering, what is a phlebotomist?
A phlebotomist is a medical professional who is responsible for drawing blood from patients for a variety of lab tests and procedures.
They work with patients ranging in age from infant to elderly, and have several job duties including:
- Verifying test requisitions by comparing information with the nursing log
- Obtaining blood specimens through fingersticks and venipuncture
- Verifying patient identity by checking the patient’s identification
- Monitoring glucose levels by performing bedside tests and recording the results in the patient’s chart
- Determining the proper method for drawing blood based on a patient’s circumstances
- Taking all specimens to the laboratory
- Following standards and procedures for maintaining a safe, secure, and healthy work environment
Job Skills and Requirements
To be the most successful, phlebotomists should have:
Stamina – Phlebotomists send much of the workday on their feet.
Compassion – It’s important to show compassion to all patients, especially those who are frightened or in a lot of pain.
Interpersonal Skills – Being friendly can go a long way when it comes to taking a patient’s mind off of the needles and blood.
Detail Oriented – Phlebotomists must pay close attention to detail as they need to properly label all samples.
Where do Phlebotomists Work?
Phlebotomists generally work in hospitals, blood banks, prisons, pharmaceutical labs, physicians’ offices, hospices, research clinics, and home healthcare agencies.
To become a phlebotomist, one must successfully complete a phlebotomy training program that range in length from two months to one year. Programs are found throughout the United States at community colleges and technical schools, and courses will include Legal Aspects of Blood Collection, Phlebotomy Medical Terminology, Patient Interaction Principles, Human Anatomy, Safety and Sanitation Procedures, CPR, and Blood Collection Techniques. Students should only attend a program that’s accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences because most employers will not hire those who did not, and it’s also an eligibility requirement for certification exams.
Clinical training is also required, and it takes place in a medical setting under the supervision of a practicing phlebotomist. During the clinical, students will explain the procedure to patients, draw blood, and properly label and store the specimens according to procedures.
Is there Further Education?
There are several opportunities for phlebotomists to further their education such as earning an electrocardiogram (EKG) certificate or by becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA).
In some states, phlebotomists are required to become certified, while in others is optional. There are several certifications available to phlebotomists, but it’s very important to check state requirements before sitting for an examination in order to confirm the state accepts the organization’s certification.
There are several certifying organizations and they include: the American Medical Technologist (AMT), the American Certifying Agency (ACA), the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NCA), the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Job Outlook and Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the medical technician industry for which phlebotomists are a part, is on the rise. The BLS expects the industry to grow at least ten percent through 2018. An entry-level technician can expect to earn $20,000 to $25,000 annually, while those with experience and additional education can earn $40,000 or more. Another determining factor is location as employers in metropolitan cities usually pay more than employers in the suburbs or rural areas.
If you enjoy working with people of all ages, this may be the career for you. To learn more about becoming a phlebotomist or about the various training programs, please contact us.