One of the most crucial specialized support roles within the healthcare field is the role of the phlebotomist. The phlebotomist is responsible for collecting blood samples from patients so that they can be analyzed by the medical lab and doctors in order to diagnose, monitor, and treat illnesses and diseases. Some phlebotomists collect urine and fecal samples at the same time, depending on the needs of the patient and his medical team.
Phlebotomy Training Requirements
Becoming a phlebotomist doesn’t take a lot of time, which is why this field is a great starting point for anyone looking to break into the medical community. You may choose to become a phlebotomist for life or you may use your experience as the basis for future advancement within the field, allowing you to continue working while you work towards your next goal.
The requirements you need to fulfill in order to become a phlebotomist will vary depending on the state in which you live. Some states require individuals to obtain a specific phlebotomy certification because of their exposure to needles and hazardous wastes. Other states are less specific about their requirements, allowing individuals to obtain training through the Red Cross or on the job. Almost all states require, at a minimum, a high school diploma.
Let’s take a look, for example, at the state regulations in California. Phlebotomists in California, according to new laws adopted in early 2003, are required to have a high school diploma or GED. They must also have 40 hours of classroom lecture instruction, 40 hours of practical training, and documentation of 50 completed venipunctures along with 10 skin punctures.
Where to Get Phlebotomy Training
Formal training to become a phlebotomist can be obtained in a couple of different ways. The two most common are through vocational schools or through adult career training schools. Programs may vary in length from as little as three months to as much as one year.
So how does one determine which type of training program to complete? You’ll need to take a couple of things into consideration. The first is your short-term goals. Do you need to get to work right away? Do you have little time for training? If so, you’ll want to lean towards one of the career program schools offering shorter training periods. Your education in a shorter program will be geared towards giving you the basic knowledge you need to succeed in the field along while fulfilling your state’s mandated experience requirements. Once you have a job, you’ll be better positioned to go back and obtain additional continuing education later on.
If you have a little more time, a longer training program will be suitable for your needs and is highly recommended. Longer phlebotomy training programs focus more on anatomy, physiology, and the needs of your patients. You’ll graduate with a more in-depth working knowledge of the medical field along with all of the elements needed to fulfill your state’s guidelines. The better your educational program, the more likely it is you are to find a higher paying job or advancement once you start working.
You’ll have to check your state’s guidelines to determine if you are required to become certified to work as a phlebotomist. Even if certification is not required, you may want to consider obtaining your formal certification anyway as doing so will show your professional dedication to the field while increasing your odds of obtaining employment.
There are several organizations offering certification for phlebotomists. Some of the most well known are the National Phlebotomy Association, The American Society for Clinical Pathology, and the American Phlebotomy Association.
The National Phlebotomy Association (NPA) aims to offer education and training to those working in the field of phlebotomy. This is one of the groups playing a role in creating national standards for phlebotomists. The NPA allows anyone who has had at least 160 hours of lecture along with 200 hours of practical and clinical training to test for certification.
The American Phlebotomy Association offers certification to individuals who have completed training at an approved educational institution. Your program must contain at least 40 hours of lecture, 40 hours of practical training, 50 successful venipunctures, and 10 capillary punctures. To qualify to test for certification you must also have a high school diploma or GED.
The American Society for Clinical Pathology also offers a certification option. In order to qualify to test for certification as a Phlebotomy Technician you must have a high school diploma or GED and you must complete a phlebotomy program approved by the NAACLS (National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences).
Other organizations to consider for certification include the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel, the American Medical Technologists group, the Board Registry of the American Society for Clinical Pathology, and the Board of Registry of the American Association of Bioanalysts.
Working as a Phlebotomist
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of phlebotomy is expected to continue to grow through at least the year 2018. While most of the phlebotomist jobs created will be in hospital settings, it will be possible to find employment in a number of other settings as well, including labs and private medical facilities.
As a phlebotomist you can expect to earn anywhere from $23,000 to $60,000 per year. The amount of money you earn will depend upon your education, experience, work environment, and geographic location.
The field of phlebotomy leaves plenty of room for advancement as well. You may work your way into a management position or you may opt to continue your education in order to become a medical assistant, doctor, nurse, radiologist, or any of a myriad of other options.
All you need in order to become a phlebotomist is a little bit of time, training, and passion for the healthcare field. Before long, you’ll be a working phlebotomist making a huge impact in the day-to-day lives of your patients.