How to Become a Phlebotomist in New Mexico

Phlebotomist Certification in New Mexico
Phlebotomists are often the first medical professionals in direct contact with a patient. Because of this they should be empathetic and comforting, able to calm and reassure the patient. Phlebotomists may be called upon to explain various procedures to the patient and ask about family medical history as well as drawing and processing blood and urine samples.

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Are Phlebotomists Certified?
The New Mexico Medical Board does not demand that phlebotomists be certified, but most employers view proper certification as a requirement for employment. Because lab techs are not licensed, New Mexico relies on federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) regulations to ensure that the facility or clinic is operating according to federal standards. These standards involve an implied responsibility for the facility to make sure that they are hiring professionals who are at least minimally qualified. Additionally, phlebotomists who have invested the time and effort to become certified usually earn a higher rate of pay than those who have not.

Requirements for a Phlebotomist
While the requirements for certification vary with the certifying institution, all candidates are required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Because they will have to read physician instructions and often explain them to the patient, candidates will be expected to pass a reading comprehension test. A criminal history and background check are also required, because phlebotomists often have access to sensitive medical and personal information. As health care professionals in direct contact with patients, phlebotomists will need to be up to date on all of their vaccinations and boosters, and will have to get tested for tuberculosis. Some certifying institutions may also require prior certification in CPR.

Other requirements for certification might include a specified number of successful blood collections or a certain amount of hands-on training, depending on the certifying agency.

What is the Certification Process?
The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) is responsible for approving phlebotomist training courses in New Mexico. Certification is acquired by passing a national state examination administered by the certifying institution. Some of the certifying institutions approved by the NAACLS are the American Association of Medical Personnel (AAMP), the National Phlebotomy Association (NPA), American Medical Technologists (AMT), the National Credentialing Agency (NCA), and the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).

Completion of the Phlebotomist Certification Exam results in a designation as a registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT) or Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT). Retaining this certification is contingent upon meeting certain requirements for continuing education. For example, the AMT requires renewal every three years by re-examination as well as a minimum amount of work experience. The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) requires an oral or written examination every ten years as a condition of renewal.

Phlebotomist Salary in New Mexico
The average hourly wage for phlebotomists in New Mexico is between $14.00 and $17.00. Annual salaries average about $27,000-$28,000, with certified phlebotomists usually earning more than those who are not certified.

Duties of a Phlebotomist
Phlebotomists may be asked to assemble needles and sterilize equipment, draw multiple samples, and administer gauze and tourniquets. They are also responsible for the proper labeling and storage of samples and in some cases may facilitate transportation of the sample to a testing facility.

Legally Permissible Tasks
In New Mexico, the legal limit to what a phlebotomist can do is determined to a large extent by medical necessity and the job description provided to them by their employer, in addition to the standards of care required under the federal CLIA regulations. In a hospital environment, phlebotomists are allowed to assist the physician in blood transfusions in addition to their other duties. They are allowed access to medical records and insurance information for the purpose of billing for medical services they provide. A phlebotomist in New Mexico is not permitted to diagnose or treat any condition or illness unless under the direct supervision of a licensed physician or other qualified medical professional.

There are countless reasons for phlebotomists to seek proper certification. Phlebotomists are not only a patient’s first impression of a health care facility; they are critical components of the health care process. Phlebotomists are instrumental in helping to identify and stop the spread of infectious disease and as such, they play a pivotal role in our entire health care system.