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What is Phlebotomy?
Phlebotomy is used to withdraw blood for testing, donation, sampling or research. Individuals working in this field will be responsible for extracting small quantities of blood from a variety of patients on a daily basis. As blood can be hazardous, individuals are trained to follow safety precaution and perform the procedure with as little invasiveness as possible. Additionally, an understanding of human physiology is required, allowing the phlebotomist to find arteries or veins that will most easily allow drawing of blood on a case by case basis.
Educational Requirements and Certification
A phlebotomy program can take between six months and two years to complete depending on the program and level of education required by the state for licensing/certification. An education in phlebotomy will teach students how blood flows through the body and which areas are best and least suited for drawing blood. Students will become acquainted with the various methods and tools used during the process, and how to maintain safety standards while conducting the procedure.
Certification in phlebotomy may also obtained by other healthcare professionals, such as medical assistants, who wish to increase the responsibilities and duties they may perform as part of their daily work routine. Certification courses are generally short, between six weeks and three months depending on the program, allowing the student to perform phlebotomy related duties upon completion. Some programs are offered through hospitals and given at a low cost to hospital employees while others are taken at career schools or community colleges with allied healthcare facilities.
Throughout the course of study phlebotomists will learn to:
- Draw blood
- Identify Veins and Arteries
- Patient Care
- Safety Procedures
- Handle Hazardous Material
Employment Opportunities, Licensure and Advice
Those seeking a career in phlebotomy should be able to find work easily as it is a rapidly growing field with more jobs available than actual phlebotomists. This is due to the nature of phlebotomy, and that some allied health professions include phlebotomy as part of their coursework. The demand for individuals with the skills necessary to perform phlebotomy related tasks is expected to rise as the population gets older and the need for blood to be drawn and tested increases.
An associate's degree or program certification along with internship hours are typically required and vary by state. State boards of occupational licensing and one's school of choice should be able to provide a student with state registration or licensing requirements. Phlebotomy programs are either accredited by the National Accrediting Agency of Clinical Laboratory Sciences or the American Society for Clinical Pathology.
Those wishing to pursue a career in phlebotomy must have/be able to:
- Steady Hands
- Good Hand-Eye Coordination
- Perform Repetitive Actions
- Stand on Their Feet for Long Periods
As phlebotomy requires the drawing of blood through a puncture made by a needle, individuals who are squeamish or prone to fainting may not be the best candidates for phlebotomy training. Additionally, because blood is being drawn and catalogued, certain safety precautions must be maintained at all times. Standard safety precautions are part of a phlebotomy curriculum, though clinics and hospitals may have their own additional regulations that must be adapted to and followed.
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
Phlebotomy is a limited growth field, allowing for little advancement due to its nature, and coupled with the increased training of this skill by healthcare professionals. As a result the need for dedicated phlebotomists will decrease even as the demand for individuals who can perform phlebotomy related functions continues to increase.
The average salary of a phlebotomist is approximately $29,000 per year, with a starting salary of about $22,000 per year, the low growth in scale regarding salary reflects the lack of career mobility associated with phlebotomy.