How to Become a Phlebotomist
Anyone wondering how to become a phlebotomist can take comfort from the fact that the requirements are not nearly as stringent as they are for some other professions in the medical field. In fact, the steps to becoming a phlebotomy technician usually only consist of taking a one-year course of study which includes laboratory safety, blood sample procedures, anatomy and physiology, and blood and cell composition. The one-year program will also include considerable hands-on training, as well as acquiring skills in handling lab equipment. The hands-on training will include a variety of skills, some of which include basic venipuncture operations, finger-stick methods, capillary puncture used on newborns, and butterfly techniques which are frequently used on small children and elderly patients, many of whom have small veins. To become a phlebotomist who is licensed and certified, which is valued by most employers, you can acquire the Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) or Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT) certifications, and these are recognized by several overseeing agencies.
Phlebotomy Technician vs. Phlebotomist
Phlebotomists complete more education and training and also provide supervision for phlebotomy technicians. They each start out with comparable education and training. However, many state regulations require phlebotomy technicians to apply for and earn a certificate or license to legally gain employment as a credentialed phlebotomist. The majority of clinics performing blood draws hire both positions and in addition to drawing blood both may find themselves entering patient date into records systems, verifying patients and properly labeling blood samples. As you can see, both phlebotomy technicians, or lab technicians, and phlebotomists work closely together. However, it is phlebotomists that supervise and take on a more clerical and managerial role over the technicians.
Phlebotomist Job Duties
One of the chief responsibilities of a phlebotomist is to draw blood samples from patients in a safe and reassuring manner. This is often harder than it sounds, since some patients have a natural fear of needles and an aversion to seeing blood. Part of your job is assuring patients and keeping them calm during the blood draws. Below is a list of some common phlebotomy job duties:
- Draw patient’s blood samples identify patients properly
- Label blood and other sample vials names & dates
- Determine the proper method for drawing a blood sample for each specific patient
- Transport specimens to a laboratory nearby
It will also be necessary sometimes to take pulse readings or respiration rates, and to record them. Updating patient records is also a normal part of the job, as is cleaning and sterilizing lab equipment. You may also be responsible for sending patient samples off to the laboratory for analysis.
Where a Phlebotomist Works
For the most part, a phlebotomist will be working in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics, laboratory settings, or even at donation areas where patients come to give blood. It’s also possible that a phlebotomist will be called upon to make house visits, when patients are unable to come to the medical facility for any reason. If working in a large facility like a hospital, it would be possible for a phlebotomist to be working any one of the three possible shifts: day, evening, or night, especially if the facility operates on a 24×7 basis. Working on holidays is also a possibility, and it’s fairly likely during the first few years of a phlebotomist’s career, since you would be the low person at the facility in terms of seniority. It’s also possible that you would have to work a rotating shift, which includes some combination of the three shifts. If your medical organization handles emergency calls, you my be tasked with contributing in that area as well, at any point in your career. You can almost always expect some varying work circumstances as a phlebotomist, especially early on in your career.
Phlebotomist Salaries and Job Growth
The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the median annual salary for phlebotomists is $34,480 per year. In addition to a competitive salary, the projected job growth is one of the highest of any profession in the U.S. right now at 23% through 2028.
|Quick Facts: Phlebotomists|
|2018 Median Pay||$34,480 per year
$16.58 per hour|
|Typical Entry-Level Education||Postsecondary nondegree award|
|Work Experience in a Related Occupation||None|
|Number of Jobs, 2018||128,300|
|Job Outlook, 2018-28||23% (Much faster than average)|
|Employment Change, 2018-28||29,500|
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