Have you ever had your blood drawn or tested at the hospital? Higher chances are that the person who was drawing your blood is a phlebotomist. Perhaps a phlebotomist is a medical career that most people are not familiar with, but according to recent data released by United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the phlebotomist occupation is expected to increase by at least 25 percent up until 2026. Mind you, that growth projection is at a faster rate compared to most health care occupations. If you’re thinking about a career in the healthcare industry, now is the right time to consider becoming a phlebotomist.
What does a phlebotomist do?
The primary role of a phlebotomist is to draw blood. However, there are other important tasks of a phlebotomist which include; verifying patient’s information and updating it on the database, labeling the blood vials correctly, transferring blood samples to laboratories for analysis and maintaining proper hygiene at the workstation to avoid infections or other complications. Additionally, phlebotomists are also expected to reassure nervous patients and make them feel comfortable.
Where does a phlebotomist work?
A phlebotomist usually works in a hospital, blood donor center, medical/diagnostic laboratory, clinic or a doctor’s office. For the phlebotomists that work in hospitals, a significant part of their job is drawing blood from patients in different wards. For instance, a phlebotomist that works in the maternity ward is expected to draw blood from newborn babies and their mothers. On the other hand, a phlebotomist that works in a diagnostic laboratory will usually be tasked with matching blood samples with the patients’ information and updating the database. At a blood donor center, phlebotomists are responsible for evaluating the suitability of the blood donors based on the vital signs, medical history, and hemoglobin tests. Even though nurses or medical assistant can also draw blood while working in a doctor’s office, phlebotomists are usually more specialized in that area, hence better qualified for that role.
What are the education requirements of a phlebotomist?
To become a phlebotomist in most states, you’re required to complete an accredited phlebotomy training program. However, there are those who enroll in a medical assistant training program and specialize in phlebotomy. Usually, the coursework will take less than a year to complete. But what minimum qualifications will you need to enroll in a phlebotomy training program? As long as you’re at least 18 years or older and you have a high school diploma or an equivalent credential such as a GED, you will get admitted to phlebotomy training programs.
What can you expect during training?
A phlebotomist drawing blood is not as simple as it seems. There are usually other factors to consider that are covered during training. For instance, a phlebotomist is trained on how to draw blood from a viable vein. But what if you can’t find a viable vein on a patient? Yes, sometimes it happens. In such rare instances, phlebotomists are taught how to draw blood from other parts of the body such as the foot, scalp, palmar side, heel stick, and fingerstick. The coursework will also cover the basic routine expected during a venipuncture such as calming down the patient, preparing the equipment, labeling the vials and ensuring the correct safety procedure is followed. Apart from the blood drawing procedures, a typical phlebotomy training program will also cover human anatomy, physiology, blood composition, lab safety rules, and medical terminology. Usually for students to pass most training programs, they must complete at least 100 successful blood draws.
How do you become a certified phlebotomist?
There is a difference between a phlebotomist who has completed a training program and one who is a certified phlebotomist. Both are considered for a phlebotomist position in most states. The only states that require phlebotomists to be certified are Nevada, Washington, Louisiana, and Washington. The rest of the states just require candidates to complete a credited phlebotomy training program. However, certified phlebotomists have an advantage over non-certified phlebotomists. Keep in mind that even though most states don’t require phlebotomy technicians to be certified, most employers prefer to hire those who have completed a phlebotomy training program and attained a professional certification. To acquire the certification, candidates usually have to pass a certification exam and provide proof of medical or laboratory experience. Moreover, becoming a certified phlebotomist can expose you to advanced procedures and even increase your pay. Most phlebotomy programs will offer extra training to those who want to become certified.
The most common phlebotomy certifications include:
- National Certified Phlebotomy Technician
- Phlebotomy Technician
- Certified Phlebotomy Technician
- Registered Phlebotomy Technician
How much does a phlebotomist earn?
According to statistics released by BLS, the average salary of phlebotomists is $33,670 per year. The highest paid 10 percent earn at least $48,000 per year while the lowest paid 10 percent earn an annual wage of $24,250. However, the pay varies depending on the location, certification, and experience.