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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.
Phlebotomy Technicians must be accurate, personable, and be able to work under pressure. Being a great communicator is an important skill to ensure information is understood and relayed to appropriate parties accordingly. Phlebotomy Techs must also maintain strict confidence to protect patient privacy and utilize discretion and diplomacy at all times.
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 from patients and donors
- Analyze patient information and communicate recommendations
- Interview patients, testing blood samples and assessing vital signs
- Properly store and label blood inventory
- Assemble necessary medical equipment and tools (cotton, sterilization pads, blood vials, needles, tourniquet)
- Accurately record patient information
- Identify veins and arteries
What Do Phlebotomy Students Learn
While classes in Phlebotomy Technology will vary from school to school, there are a core set of skills needed to succeed in the field. The list below represents the classes with the most overlap between colleges with practical, real-world classes coupled with an externship to help students link their academic work to field applications in a medical or clinical setting. The list of common classes for a phlebotomy student include:
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Medical Terminology
- Laboratory Science
Is an Accredited Phlebotomy Program Important?
Aligning yourself with a nationally or regionally accredited college offering phlebotomy programs will serve you best. An accredited college, trade school, vocational college, technical institute, or university has been put through the paces and their program scrutinized. Having an independent, third-party audit a school’s program inside and out, will provide you and future employers the peace of mind knowing a set of rigorous standards have been met. Accredited colleges and universities are known for quality degree and certification programs with a set of defined systems and processes to ensure a high level of quality can be repeated for all students.
Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
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 cataloged, 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.
Where to Phlebotomy Technicians Work?
A phlebotomy technician is needed in a variety of medical settings across various industries. As such, you can find a phlebotomy tech in virtually any medical setting from a doctor’s office, diagnostic laboratories, home health agencies, medical labs, ambulatory health care organizations, research clinics, hospitals, blood banks, outpatient care centers, community health organizations, emergency rooms, urgent care centers, state government agencies, and federal government agencies.
Common Job Titles for a Phlebotomist
In an effort to help students better understand the medical industry that envelopes phlebotomist techs, we have assembled a list of common job titles you may see during your tenure. Job titles and roles may vary slightly from region to region and from one medical institution to another but the core of the phlebotomy tech position will be quite similar. Common job titles for a phlebotomy tech include:
- Lab Assistant
- Patient Service Technician PST
- Phlebotomist Supervisor/Instructor
- Phlebotomist, Medical Lab Assistant
- Phlebotomy Director
- Phlebotomy Program Coordinator
- Phlebotomy Supervisor
- Registered Phlebotomist
- Blood Drawer
- Patient Care Technician
- Patient Care Aide
Top Job Responsibilities of a Phlebotomy Technician
In a recent survey performed by the Department of Labor, a large sample of phlebotomy technicians were asked about their daily activities. As such, we have gathered a list of the top 5 job responsibilities of a phlebotomy tech below:
- Prudently dispose of contaminated sharps per standards of practice and internal policies
- Acutely draw blood from veins by syringe, vacuum tube, or butterfly venipuncture methods
- Properly dispose of biohazard fluids and blood in accordance with applicable laws, guidelines, standards, or internal company policies
- Precisely match laboratory requisition forms to specimen tubes
- Draw blood from capillaries by dermal puncture, using common methods such as heel or finger stick.
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
The median income for a phlebotomist is $32,710 per year with a projected growth rate of 25% according to the BLS. This rate of growth is nearly 4 times the national average expected job growth and is estimated to add 28,100 jobs for phlebotomist in the coming decade.
States with the Highest Employment for Phlebotomists
- California 12,610
- Texas 9,210
- Florida 7,570
- New York 6,550
- North Carolina 5,670
Top Paying States for a Phlebotomists
- California $41,360
- Alaska $40,670
- District of Columbia $40,600
- Rhode Island $39,160
- Connecticut $39,110
Additional Resources for Phlebotomy Students
- American Society for Clinical Pathology
- National Center for Competency Testing
- National Association for Health Professionals
- American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians
- National Phlebotomy Association
- American Medical Technologists
- American Association of Medical Personnel
- National Health Career Association
- American Association of Medical Assistants
- American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals
- American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science