CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUL. 03, 2014
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How to Become a Phlebotomist

Phlebotomists are competent assistant healthcare scientists whose responsibility is to draw blood from patients for laboratory examination.  Blood tests are useful in illness diagnosis, medication effectiveness evaluation as well as in the determination of whether the patient is receiving the correct nutrition.

What do Phlebotomists Do?

Phlebotomists typically work in various areas such as:

  •          Doctors’ offices
  •          Blood donor centers
  •          Blood banks
  •          Hospitals
  •          Medical and diagnostic laboratories

Of course collecting blood is not the only task played by phlebotomists. Other duties include:

  •          Drawing blood through venal puncture
  •          Testing a patient’s sugar
  •          Determining blood types
  •          Sanitization of equipment before blood collection
  •          Giving injections
  •          Administering IV medication
  •          Setting up intravenous lines
  •          Managing various records

Salary

Phlebotomists’ Annual Median Earnings Depending on Location

Alabama

$26,263

Colorado

$31,265

Georgia

$25,852

Lowa

$25,128

Massachusetts

$33,409

Montana

$27,160

New Mexico

$23,556

Virginia

$34,152

Minnesota

$32,373

California

$34,204

Florida

$29,904

Source: Salary.com

What Qualifications are needed?

Phlebotomy is basically considered a medical assistants’ career specialization hence does not have any strongly defined specializations within the phlebotomy practice.  However, the phlebotomist should possess the following skills:

  •          Ability to conduct interviews with patients
  •          Ability to identify abnormal cells
  •          Anatomy comprehension and its function in pathologic conditions
  •          Ability to recognize relevant laboratory equipment
  •          Ability to carry out chemical tests
  •          Comprehension of the color coding of tubes
  •          Comprehension of patient care after the completion of venipuncture
  •          Ability to test blood for drugs
  •          Ability to keep records

A phlebotomist requires the above mentioned skills because this position requires the expert to work with clinical staff, nurses, doctors and various other people of all ages. Other skills such as client service and proper phone etiquette are a must.

Professional Training            

You can enroll in phlebotomy training after obtaining a high school diploma or a GED, which are considered as a pre-requisite for pursuing a phlebotomy training program. Once you enroll in a program at a technical school or a college, you receive on-the-job training that includes drawing blood from different patient groups including the elderly and children.  After completing the education program, you can opt to become a certified professional by obtaining licensure from various agencies such as the American Association of Medical PersonnelAMT or the American Society of Clinical Pathology.

For an individual to become certified, he has the liability to meet the eligibility obligations set by the organization.  For instance, the AMT demands that the candidates graduate from an acceptable training institution and have at least 1,040 hours of work experience. Typical employers prefer hiring phlebotomists with a national certification credential. Additionally, various states require the phlebotomist to have legal licensure to be able to work. These states also have different qualification measure. Therefore, phlebotomists should first check the state’s requirements before applying for the position.

Career Prospects

Prospective phlebotomists can seek jobs at healthcare clinics and hospitals, among other employers as described above. According to BLS, these job opportunities are readily available and are projected to increase 27% from 2012-2022. This growth rate is much faster compared to other occupations since blood donor centers, hospitals and various other locations will require the services of a phlebotomist. The demand for phlebotomists will remain high since healthcare providers will need blood work for diagnoses and analysis.

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