One of the most popular career choices in health care today is becoming a phlebotomist. These professionals, who are responsible for drawing blood from patients in hospitals and doctor’s offices as well as from volunteers at blood drives, play a vital role in the delivery of health care services. Employed by hospitals, medical offices, blood banks and laboratories they spend much of their time working one-on-one with patients, making sure to keep them calm while drawing blood needed for tests or for donating to others. For residents of South Carolina who are interested in pursuing this career, there are many important steps which must be taken.
No matter where a phlebotomist plans to work, a high school diploma or equivalent is required prior to beginning a training course. Phlebotomist training programs are offered through various community colleges, hospitals and vocational schools that specialize in medical careers. The programs take usually no more than one year to complete, though some colleges do offer Associate degree programs in medical technology that qualify students to become phlebotomists. Classes in human anatomy and physiology, medical records, psychology and more are offered to students. Along with classroom instruction, students must also successfully complete a clinical internship at a local health care facility. The internship lasts one semester and lets the student gain practical experience under the supervision of an experienced phlebotomist, teaching them the proper techniques for drawing blood, maintaining accurate records and how to use various medical equipment associated with phlebotomy.
Education & Training
Upon completing a training program, a student can sit for a certification exam. This is highly recommended, since almost all employers require a phlebotomist to carry national certification. The certification exam consists of a written exam and a demonstration of clinical procedures, which can include drawing blood, assembling needles and test vials and properly documenting patient information. Successful completion of this exam earns a student the designation of Certified Phlebotomist, which is what employers look for when hiring. Certification can be obtained through one of many organizations including the National Phlebotomy Association, Association of Phlebotomy Technicians and the American Society for Clinical Pathology.
In South Carolina, there are many colleges that offer phlebotomy training programs. Some of the most well-known are Trident Technical College, Greenville Technical College and Midlands Technical College. Along with these colleges, many hospitals offer in-house training programs for people interested in pursuing this career. These programs are started by hospitals due to the urgent need for people trained in this field, so many opportunities exist to get trained quickly for this career.
The daily duties of a phlebotomist vary, but generally include drawing blood from patients of all ages and physical conditions, properly labeling all samples prior to testing, keeping their instruments clean and sanitary and entering patient information into computerized databases. Because phlebotomists deal one-on-one with patients, it’s crucial they have great interpersonal skills with people of all ages and backgrounds. Many people are terrified at the thought of being stuck with a needle, so a phlebotomist must have the ability to put them at ease while explaining the procedure that’s being done.
In addition to great people skills, a phlebotomist needs to be very detail-oriented and have a strong sense of responsibility and compassion for their patients. Making sure all samples are properly labeled, that all pertinent patient information is entered onto medical records and all supplies are properly cared for are just some of the many responsibilities of a phlebotomist.
Phlebotomist Salary in South Carolina
Salaries for phlebotomists are very good, with the average salary for a beginning phlebotomist averaging almost $27,000 per year. Salaries are highest in hospitals and doctor’s offices, while positions in blood banks or laboratories tend to pay slightly less. After several years of experience, salaries can exceed $35,000 or more. Job growth is expected to be very good for the rest of the decade, with annual job growth expected to approach 15 percent. For people looking for a good-paying career that’s in high demand and plays a crucial part in the health care process, phlebotomy may be an option to consider.