A phlebotomist is someone who has been trained specifically in how to successfully draw blood, whether that be for a medical test or a blood donation. They work in such locations as doctors offices, medical labs, and hospitals. Most individuals who wish to pursue a career in phlebotomy will complete a training program before entering the workforce.
An individual enrolled in a phlebotomy training program will learn how to complete all the duties that a successful phlebotomist must be able to perform. Although the primary function of these individuals is to collect blood samples, the job begins as soon as the patient enters the room. As many patients may feel distress at the prospect of having their blood drawn, it is the phlebotomist's job to put the patient at ease while simultaneously prepping them with tourniquets and disinfectant, and then drawing the blood as painlessly as possible. After the blood sample is collected, the phlebotomist must label each sample correctly. A phlebotomist must be prepared to deal with any complications that may arise from improperly drawn blood, patient allergies, or other patient conditions, and they must adapt their procedure and equipment to each unique situation.
The only educational training needed to become a phlebotomist is the completion of a certificate or diploma program. Phlebotomists can also find work with just a high school diploma and receive training once they are hired. However, completing a training program may open up more job prospects and make an individual more competitive in the workforce. A certificate program will focus on the physiology, equipment, technique, procedure, and terminology of the profession. Such a program will mix lecture and lab time in order to provide a brief academic experience that segues into a clinical rotation meant to provide practical experience. A certificate program in phlebotomy can be completed in a year or less, and upon graduation individuals will be prepared for entry-level work. Typically, the only requirement for enrolling in such a program is a high school diploma or equivalent.
Once an individual has finished one off these programs, they will be able to apply for certification through various professional organizations. Certification shows a level of knowledge and dedication to the field that employers value when making hiring decisions. A handful of states require phlebotomists to become certified in order to work.
The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) offers the Phlebotomy Technician (PBT) certification. To earn this certification, a phlebotomist must pay a $135 application fee, pass an examination, and meet certain education and training requirements. There are a variety of ways to meet these requirements, such as through completing an accredited certificate program, or through earning a high school diploma and accumulating a year of work experience in an accredited lab. Interested individuals can check out ASCP's certification page for more information on the acceptable ways to meet their qualifications.
The National Phlebotomy Association is a nonprofit organization that specializes in phlebotomy certification. To obtain certification through this organization, a phlebotomist must pass a certification exam after meeting several requirements, including completing an allied health program that includes venipuncture techniques and clinical training, as well as 200 hours of clinical experience and theory-based education. There is also a process available for those who do not have the required education but who have work experience as a phlebotomist to also get certified. All requirements can be viewed on the NPA's website.
The American Medical Technologists organization offers a range of certifications, including the Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT) designation. By offering easy access to information on continuing education courses and workshops, the AMT makes the post-certification process a little easier for new technicians. Phlebotomists can become certified through AMT by completing either an approved educational program or through work experience. Certification can be achieved by those who have graduated from a program that provides students with at least 120 class hours, or through accumulating 1,040 hours of work experience within the last three years. Interested applicants can check out AMT's website for additional information.
When choosing a phlebotomy program, an important aspect to consider is accreditation. If a program has been accredited, an external, independent organization has evaluated the program based on various criteria such as strength of curriculum and quality of faculty, and determined that the program meets high standards. Program accreditation helps to ensure that students will be receiving a quality education that will adequately prepare them for the workplace. A good source of information on educational programs in phlebotomy is the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). The agency plays a lead role in accrediting and approving educational programs in clinical laboratory sciences and other similar health professions. Individuals seeking to enroll in phlebotomy programs may search for accredited and approved programs through the NAACLS site. The site provides extensive information regarding the approval process for phlebotomy programs as well as guidelines for continuing education in the field. Familiarizing oneself with the standards for phlebotomy programs established by NAACLS helps to ensure that they make an excellent choice for their phlebotomy education.
The aforementioned three organizations are the predominant certification and accreditation agencies for phlebotomy technicians. However, there are other agencies that serve phlebotomists in important ways:
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