How to Become a Phlebotomist in Virginia

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing areas of employment within the nation’s economy, largely because many of the jobs require short-term training while offering excellent salaries and benefits. One of the best jobs within healthcare is that of phlebotomist, who is responsible for drawing blood samples from patients in hospitals or doctor’s offices. For students in Virginia who are interested in becoming a phlebotomist, there are several key points to remember.

Requirements for Phlebotomist
To become a phlebotomist, most training programs generally require students to have a high school diploma or GED. Training programs are conducted through community colleges, trade and technical schools and hospitals. Combining classroom instruction and clinical experience, most programs take one year to complete. Students take a variety of classes on such subjects as anatomy, physiology and medical terminology. They must also complete a clinical experience at a hospital or other healthcare facility, where they observe the proper procedures for drawing blood, how to interact with patients and learn how to keep accurate records.

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Once a training program is completed, a phlebotomist usually gains certification. This can be obtained through many different organizations, such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Medical Technologists and the National Center for Competency Testing. Testing usually consists of a classroom exam and being able to demonstrate the ability to do such tasks as properly draw blood, assemble and maintain needles and vials and properly document patient information. Upon passing an exam, a phlebotomist gains certification and is referred to as a Certified Phlebotomist.

Duties of Phlebotomists
Once on the job, a phlebotomist must be skilled in many areas including how to identify the best puncture sites on a patient, how to collect samples, how to properly dispose of medical waste and the precautions which must be taken to prevent exposure to blood-borne pathogens. But perhaps most of all, a phlebotomist must have excellent interpersonal skills when dealing with patients. Many people are scared at the thought of having a needle stuck in them, so a phlebotomist must be able to work with patients of all ages and backgrounds in order to keep them calm before, during and after the procedure. No matter what, the phlebotomist must maintain their composure in order to properly do their job.

Continuing Education
As with most healthcare jobs, continuing education is a necessity. Most phlebotomists regularly attend seminars and workshops on various topics such as medical records, new equipment, new procedures and regulations and much more. Staying on top of the latest news within their field is a must for phlebotomists, in order to let them continue to provide the best possible care to patients.

Phlebotomist Salary in Virginia
Salaries for phlebotomists are quite good considering the short amount of time needed to complete training. In Virginia, the average salary for a beginning phlebotomist is $30,000 annually. For those with several years experience, salaries can approach $40,000. Many phlebotomists decide to return to school and obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology, allowing them to become a Medical Technologist and perform more complex tests and participate in medical research studies. Job opportunities will continue to be very good for phlebotomists in Virginia, with annual job growth expected to be almost 14 percent. Opportunities will continue to be available in hospitals and doctor’s offices, with other jobs available in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, blood banks and blood donation centers.

For people who have a strong desire to help others, are compassionate and very detail-oriented, a career as a phlebotomist may be a great choice. Offering excellent pay and benefits, it is a career that plays a vital role in helping doctors and researchers learn what is wrong with a patient and discover ways to help them.