How to Become a Phlebotomist in Tennessee

For people in Tennessee, health care continues to provide many of the best-paying jobs that are available after short-term training programs are completed. One of the fastest-growing and highest-paying jobs that fits this description is a phlebotomist, which is a medical technician that works in hospitals, medical labs and doctor’s offices obtaining blood samples from patients that are analyzed for various reasons. While there are no specific guidelines in Tennessee when it comes to obtaining employment, most employers today prefer to hire people who have completed formal phlebotomy training programs that include a combination of classroom and clinical instruction.

To enroll in a phlebotomy training program, students are often required to possess a high school diploma or GED. For those who are interested in these programs, it’s a good idea to take classes in biology, chemistry and mathematics while in high school. Because phlebotomists deal with people of all ages and cultures on a daily basis, possessing excellent written and oral communication skills is also highly desired by employers. Fluency in a foreign language, such as Spanish, will also help a phlebotomist obtain employment and interact well with patients.

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Phlebotomy Training
There are many options available for Tennessee residents who are interested in becoming phlebotomists. Many schools offer phlebotomy training programs, with some of the most popular being offered at Allied Health Careers Institute, East Tennessee State University, Jackson State Community College and Miller-Motte Technical College. For those who want to bypass college, the American Red Cross offers a program that combines phlebotomy training with EKG training as well, preparing students for jobs in a variety of settings. Most programs take less than one year to complete and include classroom and clinical training. In these programs, students learn human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, how to properly draw blood from patients, how to document procedures in computerized databases and more. During their clinical experience, students train under the supervision of an experienced phlebotomist, where they observe various procedures and gain practical experience drawing blood from patients and learning how to use and maintain phlebotomy equipment.

Once a training program is completed, a student is eligible to sit for the national certification exam. Most schools will include the cost of this exam in the cost of the training program, since they realize most employers will not hire students who are not certified. The certification test consists of a written exam as well as a hands-on segment, where the student must demonstrate the ability to draw blood from a patient using the correct techniques and equipment. Upon passing this exam, the student is given the designation of Certified Phlebotomist. Many different organizations offer certification exams, including the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, National Health Care Career Association and the Society of American Medical Technologists.

Phlebotomist Job Duties
While most phlebotomists work in hospitals and doctor’s offices, there are other places where employment can also be found. Nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, blood banks, blood donation centers and research labs offer opportunities for phlebotomists. Many entry-level phlebotomists begin their careers in blood donation centers, where they can get extensive experience working with a large volume of patients each day. After one or two years of experience, most move on to jobs in hospitals or doctor’s offices, where they work with a variety of patients. Because medical tests are performed 24/7, those who work in hospitals are subject to working weekends, holidays and overnight hours to meet the needs of patients.

Phlebotomist Salary in Tennessee
Phlebotomy jobs are some of the fastest-growing within health care, and are expected to stay that way for the next decade. Annual job growth is expected to exceed 25 percent, with demand being greatest at hospitals or doctor’s offices located in rural areas of the United States. Salaries for these jobs are also very good considering the limited amount of training needed to enter the field. Currently, average annual salaries for beginning phlebotomists are $25,000. For those with several years experience, salaries can rise to $30,000 or more. Advancement opportunities are also available in this field, with those who become supervisors earning $40,000 or more annually. Benefit packages are also very good for phlebotomists, with most having health insurance, paid vacations, tuition reimbursement, paid sick leave and retirement plans.

Job Outlook
People who have excellent communication skills, compassion for others and an ability to be very detail-oriented can enjoy successful careers as phlebotomists. While some phlebotomists return to school and become medical technologists, others choose to stay in the field for many years. With training programs often costing less than $2,000 and able to be completed on evenings and weekends, more and more people are turning to this as a viable career option. So for those who enjoy helping others and being a vital part of the health care team, phlebotomy is a great career choice.