The healthcare industry depends on sanitary and safe drawing of blood from a patient through a professional known as a phlebotomist. Such drawing of blood samples may be performed by a phlebotomist either for blood donations or tests. Education and formal training are required to pursue a career in phlebotomy; many employers prefer licensure or certification in a prospective candidate. In this article, we will provide a step-by-step process where a potential phlebotomist can carve their career path.
Earning a High School Diploma or Equivalent
The first step to a career in phlebotomy is the completion of a high school diploma or equivalent qualification to set the stage for additional training or education in the future. Such qualification equivalent to a high school diploma can be in the form of a GED. Additionally, prospective candidates are required to be at least eighteen years old.
Completion of Phlebotomy Training
Technical schools and colleges offer phlebotomy programs for aspiring phlebotomists to enroll into, these are usually programs of short-term duration of a year or less where students are taught techniques of drawing blood apart from proper interaction with patients. Coursework usually covers legal issues, disposal of equipment and lab safety. Classroom lectures are augmented with on-the-job training imparted in a clinical setting such as a hospital. Skin punctures and disease tests are required to be repeated by candidates to accomplish demonstration of their proficiency.
Completion of Licensure and Certification Requirements
Prospective phlebotomists who aspire to become certified professionals after they have completed their educational requirements are required to complete certification exams conducted by the American Association of Medical Personnel, American Medical Technologists (AMT) or the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. To get certification, candidates are required to meet additional requirements that the respective organizations set. For instance, the AMT certification is awarded subject to the completion of graduation by the prospective candidate through an acceptable training course. They must have a minimum of 1,040 hours of hands on experience apart from having passed the certification exam. A national certification credential, such as the Registered Phlebotomy Technician credential offered by the AMT is usually given priority by employers.
Some states, such as California, insist on fulfillment of licensure norms before they allow phlebotomists to practice within those states. However, different states have different requirements; requirements vary according to specialization. To learn about the specific requirements in a state, prospective phlebotomists can find out from the respective state’s occupational licensing department or its health department.
Getting a Job
Private healthcare clinics and hospitals are the most common employers of prospective phlebotomists (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). Clinical labs are another potential employment location for phlebotomists where they will have to work with lab technicians, among other medical professionals who perform the functions of screening and testing collected blood samples. Job prospects are projected to remain good with a projected job growth of fourteen percent predicted during the decade from 2008 to 2018 for lab technicians such as phlebotomists (source: BLS (www.bls.gov)).