How to Become a Phlebotomist

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Phlebotomy is an important part of the medical field that involved drawing blood for laboratory tests or blood donations. Phlebotomists are trained medical personnel that perform phlebotomies in a variety of healthcare and community settings to help reduce the workload of other medical professionals.

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What does a phlebotomist do?

Phlebotomists are specially trained professionals whose main purpose is to draw and handle blood for different reasons. They perform venipuntures when collecting large amounts of blood and finger sticks when collecting small quantities. They work with a variety of patients from infants to the elderly and often adjust their technique by the needs of the patients. When performing phlebotomies on infants they typically do heel sticks. Phlebotomists collect blood from many different areas of the body but the ulnar and radial arteries are the most common. They label and catalog blood samples for laboratory analysis and diagnostic testing. Phlebotomists must properly handle blood to avoid the risk of contamination and spreading blood borne diseases. Some phlebotomists travel to different healthcare facilities such as outpatient clinics and nursing homes to collect and transport blood samples. Others collect blood donations for blood drives.

What kind of training does a phlebotomist need?

Phlebotomists must have at least a high school diploma and complete a phlebotomy certification program. Many technical and vocational schools offer phlebotomy training programs and some community colleges offer associate degree programs in phlebotomy. Phlebotomy students usually complete courses in anatomy, Universal and standard precautions, patient interaction, legal aspects of collecting blood, and blood collection techniques. Many students complete externships at healthcare facilities to gain practical experience.

Some states require phlebotomists to be licensed or certified. Phlebotomists can gain certification from many different agencies such as the American Medical Technologists (AMT), American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP), and the National Phlebotomy Association (NPA).

What are the prospects for a career as a phlebotomist?

Employment of all clinical laboratory workers (including phlebotomists) is projected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Continued growth and construction of new hospitals and healthcare facilities will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent because there are more job openings than applicants. Job openings will also stem from the need to replace phlebotomists that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do phlebotomists make?

As of October 2009, the middle 50% of phlebotomists earned average annual salaries between $25,878 and $31,428. The top 10% earned average annual salaries of more than $34,100 (2).

A career as a phlebotomist is an excellent choice for individuals interested in drawing blood on a variety of patients. Phlebotomists must not be easily squeamish and have good steady hands and excellent eye-hand coordination. They must be able to work well under pressure and pay close attention to detail. Phlebotomists must also be able to work effectively independently and as part of a team.

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