How to Become a Certified Phlebotomy Technician

Overview

Certified people can be successful in any field if they gain proper education along with work experience. They practice their work with a legal approval by the state, which grants them the authority to perform their duty flawlessly. Work in the medical industry does not only require job experience but academic excellence, which could turn out to be very fruitful. Phlebotomy is one such area of medicine that focuses on blood sampling and transfusions. A certified phlebotomy technician, therefore, might have a lot of job opportunities in almost every hospital and healthcare center.

Phlebotomy technician is a person who works in laboratories, hospitals, blood banks and doctors’ office. They collect blood samples in order to use them for various purposes including blood tests and donations. They facilitate the laboratory work by carrying specimens to research with micro techniques and venipuncture.

It is an extremely challenging work as they have to cope and deal with patients of various temperaments along with safe precautions to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.   For that matter, hygienic methods should be used, instruments should be sterilized and protective masks and gloves should be worn. These phlebotomy technicians use sterilized instruments and wear protective masks and gloves for the protection, before taking blood samples.

Related: Becoming a Clinical Nurse Specialist

Job Duties

Phlebotomists also carry out clerical work and testing as required by doctors and specialists. Some of their major duties include:

  • Organizing and maintaining the equipment used for drawing blood
  • Identifying all the possible points from which blood can be drawn
  • Involving patients in the process of assessing points of vein access
  • Having sufficient knowledge of the different blood vessels in the body and applying it to withdraw blood
  • Complying with laws on the use and disposal of equipment used in the withdrawal process
  • Assisting doctors with testing of the blood samples
  • Carrying out basic and specific procedures concerning the medical tests
  • Checking the inventory for any shortage or renewal of equipment
  • Updating medical records of the patients

A phlebotomist’s job is not an easy one. Extreme care and precaution needs to be taken in handling the needles and vials being used. If a technician accidentally comes in contact with a needle that has been used on the patient, there is a likely possibility of transmission of blood-borne viruses.

Due to the level of caution and precision involved, phlebotomy has become a highly specialized field. The technicians receive sufficient training in order to perform their jobs. Students are prepared for the roles undertaken by a phlebotomist and after the completion of the program, successful candidates are awarded certifications.

Work Environment

Hospitals, laboratories, outpatient clinics and doctor’s offices are the main places where phlebotomists work. Because of the nature of their job, phlebotomists have to work full time. In most situations, they may be required to work overnight, on weekends and on holidays.

For their work, they require special health and safety materials which prevents from the incident of virus transmissions. For these purposes, technicians may also have to be tested for Hepatitis B.

Education Requirements

To enter in this field it is obligatory to complete a training program in phlebotomy. Community healthcare colleges and schools are the best places to get phlebotomy education. Blood collection techniques, CPR, and medical terminologies are taught as major subjects on short term basis within 10 weeks.

Potential candidates opting for phlebotomy as a career should preferably have a post-secondary certificate or a high school diploma.

Phlebotomy technicians are required to participate in a training program. Such training programs are available at colleges, technical schools as well as medical academies. Once enrolled, participants may choose to cover other, related subjects. The training programs consist of short courses which take approximately 10 weeks to complete. In some cases, phlebotomists can also be trained on the job, provided they have a high school diploma.

Certification

After having a high school diploma (or equivalent) and completing the training course, the candidates will have to give an exam as per requirements of national certifying agencies. Different agencies test for slightly varying knowledge sets but general dimensions include knowledge of anatomy, procedures for withdrawing blood and different medical terminologies.

Several agencies certify phlebotomists, including the following:

  1. American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP)
  2. American Medical Technologist (AMT)
  3. National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
  4. National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)

The certification verifies abilities of the candidates by matching them to a particular standard. This makes it easy for recruiters to judge the competency level of the technicians. Since there are many certification programs available, it is advisable to be certified by at least one of them. However, some systems may require the candidate to take more than 1 certification.

Similarly, different agencies offer different credentials. In this case, candidates will have to confirm the credentials required for the area they choose to work in.

Agencies help by providing resources such as study material to support the learning and practice of candidates. It is always better to attempt the certification exam by going over tests previously taken by the agency for better understanding and preparation.

Job Outlook

The typical duties of a phlebotomist are to prepare equipments for blood tests including needles, gauze, blood collection devices, cotton and alcohol. They need to be friendly with the patients throughout the process. Phlebotomist store and label blood for different treatments, examine information, and give suitable recommendations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the occupational outlook handbook reveals that the employment of medical laboratory technologists is expected to increase by 11 percent till 2020. On the other hand, the employment of technicians of medical laboratory would grow by 15 percent.

Salary Prospects

The salary statistics on payscale.com shows that in 2011, a phlebotomy technician earned between $20,204 and $36,386 per year.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted salary of medical laboratory technologists and technicians around $56,130 in May 2010. Licensed and experienced individuals tend to earn more than others.

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