Becoming a phlebotomist will help individuals establish themselves in a comfortable and secure career. With medical innovation and technology continuously on the rise, there is a growing demand for qualified individuals to conduct medical testing. Phlebotomists are ideally situated for success, working in clinics and hospitals, private practices, doctor’s offices and blood draw centers. Phlebotomists work to carefully conduct blood draw procedures and lab testing on patients. Phlebotomy workers have the ability to go to work in the medical field in the realm of testing and lab procedures without the standard medical education, which can take up to eight years. The minimum credential necessary to pursue a career in the field is a high school diploma. Phlebotomists can get certified in a matter of weeks to months, depending on the exact training program and the state in which one gets certified. Even without certification in phlebotomy, it may be possible to go to work in the field.
Phlebotomists are an essential and valuable commodity in the world of medicine. Accreditation and gaining employment is attainable through a wide variety of means. Everywhere from community colleges, vocation and technical schools to online certification programs and additional workshops are available through the American Phlebotomy Association. Phlebotomists usually earn entry-level salary, but are able to gain a lot of valuable experience, which inevitably leads to career advancement if they so choose. Phlebotomists will always find places to work whether in ambulatory centers, medical centers, blood draw donation centers, clinics physicians offices, hospitals or labs. Phlebotomy certification will open many doors that are otherwise inaccessible and provide opportunities in the medical field.
What to Expect in the Career
As a phlebotomist, you can plan for a flexible schedule while maintaining steady work and reliable employment. Many practices require phlebotomy labs to be open and functioning on a 24/7 basis. Therefore, phlebotomists can pick and choose a schedule of hours that best fits their lives. Schedules can range from rotating shifts (several days working, several days off) to day shifts, night shifts and weekend-only shifts. Phlebotomists can always expect to work in a clean, safe, comfortable and well-organized environment. Studying to be a phlebotomist is a very inexpensive certification process in contrast with nursing education or the extensive and time consuming process of becoming a medical doctor. With certification, the pay grade for work as a phlebotomist will rise and one can look forward to more financial compensation beyond entry-level salary after gaining more work experience and getting good references. Phlebotomist can often look forward to medical and dental benefits after maintaining gainful employment. Many employers may even pay for phlebotomy training for new recruits. Phlebotomy certification will not expire and credentials from other states are usually always transferring as long as the American Phlebotomy Association sponsors them.
Training time to perform basic blood draw duties and apply lab protocol effectively can be as little as one week. Phlebotomists are among the front line employees responsible for saving lives. This makes a career not only personally beneficial but highly gratifying. Compared to other life-saving careers in the medical profession, phlebotomy is a relatively stress free and even-paced job many consider relaxing. Depending on the exact medical setting, phlebotomists may work with a specific demographic background or age group. However, most of the time, patients will range in age and health background. Patients requiring blood draws may be young adults, babies, children and the elderly.
The average desired/required skills a phlebotomist should possess will vary from state to state and practice to practice. In general, the longer and more complete a certification program is, the better it looks to potential employers. The higher the expectations of a certification program, the higher the employer expectations and greater the work tasks after completion of clinical training. A majority of phlebotomy courses will tell you where you will be situated upon completion of training. Phlebotomy courses are usually classified as adult non-degree courses, therefore not requiring formal college enrollment or completion of a degree program. Educational requirements may differ between prospective medical practices but are usually quite lenient. Phlebotomy jobs are detail-oriented, requiring careful use of procedure, protocol and attention to accuracy. Additionally, courtesy and the ability to make a wide variety of people feel at ease is an important aspect of the job.
As a phlebotomist, you are responsible for drawing blood from patients, collecting a variety of specimens in addition to blood sample. In turn, samples and other controlled substances must be carefully labeled. Phlebotomists may also be in charge of moving blood samples to the laboratory within a hospital or medical practice. Primary duties include but are not limited to:
• Collecting blood samples from patients
• Labeling files with dates and patient names
• Practicing proper patient identification protocol, especially when working within hospitals
• Working with a great number of patients varying in health status and age
• Providing a comfortable experience for patients during lab procedures
• Centrifuging blood samples (not always but depending on work responsibilities)
• Deciphering the best approach when drawing blood from each specific patient
• Being courteous, friendly, empathetic and helpful towards patients
• Keeping phlebotomy station or cart well-organized at every juncture
• Practicing effective standards on hygiene and infection control at every juncture when working with patience and between patients
• Keeping equipment sterilized and organized
A phlebotomist’s skills should include bedside manner, accuracy and attentiveness, maintaining a safe and effective environment, infection control, detailed observation, complying with regulations and laws, carrying out diagnostic procedures and informing necessary parties about lab information. Entering results into a computer database also requires phlebotomists to carefully report any and all results that fall outside of normal range to a pathologist immediately. It is crucial that phlebotomists stay on top of interpreting lab results. Phlebotomists must quickly notify appropriate responsible parties of any abnormal results or positive/negative test reports. For this reason, phlebotomists are ideally stationed on the front lines of life-saving work in a context that is both calm and organized. Phlebotomists must maintain a quality control log in which results are recorded and identify/apply changes to reports accordingly. Phlebotomists are in charge of maintaining a secure, safe and healthy working environment by complying with standards and legal regulations. Resolution of unusual test orders are often necessary through making contact with nursing stations, pathologists, physicians, reference laboratories or other referral departments. Phlebotomists protect and serve the hospital community by carefully adhering to standards of ethics. Phlebotomists help enhance the reputation of a medical department or hospitals reputation through accomplishing a variety of requests and making patients feel safe and valued.
• Disposing of any contaminated sharps in accordance with regulations, laws, standards or policies
• Working carefully to draw blood from arteries using arterial collection methods
• Documenting route of any lab specimens from collection through the process of lab analysis and diagnosis
• Collecting additional samples from patients such as tissue or fluid by appropriate collection methods
• Disposing of biohazardous fluids and tissue or blood in line with any protocol, standards, policies or applicable laws
• Using vacuum tubes, syringes or butterfly venipuncture methods to draw blood from veins
• Giant blood from capillaries by route of dermal punctures including finger-stick or heel methods
• Explaining tissue and fluid collection methods to patients before proceeding
• Matching data and forms to individual specimen tubes
• Keeping blood drying trays clean and organized to ensure that all instruments and needles, syringes or related items are sterile and unused
• Administering intramuscular and subcutaneous injections in line with any restrictions on licensing
• Maintain or collaborate plasma collection machines and additional equipment or machines
• Collecting specimens for tests at exact time intervals such as specimens required for assessment of therapeutic drug use benchmarks.
• Conducting routine tests including blood culture, glucose screening, blood alcohol, oral glucose tolerance, blood smears and peak and trough drug level testing.
• Carrying out tests hemoglobin in providing assurance that donor iron levels are appropriate.
• Assessing suitability of donors, conducting interviews, interpreting interview results, monitoring vital signs and analyzing medical histories
• Monitor plasma and blood donors throughout procedures to ensure their sense of ease, health and safety
• Enter insurance and billing information into a computer for each patient specimens are collected from
• Dispensing anticoagulant drugs such as have parenting intravenously in line with any licensing restrictions and under the supervision of a qualified physician
• Processing fluid or blood samples for additional observation and analysis to other medical personnel
• Providing refreshments to donors to maintain proper absorption of sugar throughout their bodily systems
• Perform saline flush procedures
• Training any additional medical personnel in phlebotomy and lab protocol
• Transport fluid or specimen samples from any collection sites to appropriate labs, clinics, hospitals or other testing centers
• Stay up-to-date on medical knowledge for new procedures and protocol for said procedures
Some phlebotomists carry out tasks involving homecare visits or transportation of fluid and blood samples between laboratories. Sometimes, phlebotomists are responsible for carrying out certain functions to process or analyze blood samples with attending physicians and medical professionals. Phlebotomists who work in a laboratory setting have the added responsibility of ensuring each sample is correctly analyzed while reinforcing safety measures and quality control regulations to prevent any skewing or contamination of samples.
Phlebotomy training and certification is usually fairly straightforward. Training can range from a one-week process for entry-level phlebotomy tech jobs to one year after passage of a vocational training program, community college or technical school certification. The average duration of training programs is 3 months. This may vary from state to state given registration and licensing requirements. However, program duration is usually minimal and very fast-paced. Locating accredited training programs in each state can usually be done through visiting state-sponsored medical websites and checking statewide requirements for phlebotomy certification. Candidates need only a high school diploma to complete an accredited phlebotomy program or course. While fast certification is doable in most states, certain phlebotomy employment opportunities may require students to complete a certain number of any puncture or skin puncture collections. Employers may prefer candidates who possess advanced professional certification or prior experience.
Salary and Long Term Career Outlook
The average annual salary of phlebotomist can expect ranges from $20,000 to $48,000. The most common phlebotomist wages across the US are between from $25,177 to $30,470 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Due to the increase in required laboratory testing services at medical practices throughout the country, an increasing number of facilities require precertification for phlebotomists before they get hired. This is due to each medical practices need to reduce liability issues related to phlebotomy technicians. The median hourly pay across the US for phlebotomy work is roughly $14.29. The projected 10-year growth for phlebotomy jobs is 27%. This means that the number of employment opportunities projected to be made available across America within the field is expected to grow by roughly 101,300 in the next 10 years.
Phlebotomists can expect to save money on education and go to work right away. The standard accepted credential is only a post secondary nondegree award. This allows phlebotomists to be specially oriented in the world of medicine with plenty of paths to career advancement. Because phlebotomists’ duties are primarily scheduled ahead of time, as opposed to under high-stress emergency situations, phlebotomists’ wages are often determined by flexible standards of availability and preferred hours. Phlebotomists usually have the opportunities for shift change, matching schedules to standard office hours and having access to ongoing and appealing job opportunities from one practice to another. These abilities are not typical of careers within the medical profession.