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A to Z Phlebotomy

Career FAQs

Answers to some frequently asked questions about starting a career in Phlebotomy

Overview

A Phlebotomist's Vital Role in Medicine

The phlebotomist is a vital member of the clinical laboratory team whose main function is to obtain patients' blood specimens by venipuncture and micro-collection and transportation of other clinical specimens. Phlebotomists are employed throughout the health care system in hospitals, neighborhood health centers, medical group practices, HMOs, public health facilities, and veterans' hospitals, Health and Wellness companies and so much more.

The field of phlebotomy has greatly expanded in the past several years, and the role of this integral member of the health care team has recently been brought into much sharper focus. The threat of AIDS, hepatitis, and risks of segments of society from other infectious diseases has dramatically emphasized the need for quickly expanding training programs, while maintaining the highest possible standards of instruction and continuing education for these health care professionals.


Patient and health care worker safety and quality assurances which adhere to the most stringent professional standards are essential at every echelon of the health care process. Society's continuing good health may very well depend on it.


The phlebotomist has a direct effect on the overall quality of medical care.

Remember doctors and nurses can't do their job in an ER setting until the Phlebotomist has completed the patient's blood draw. The patient's blood panel will provide the medical staff with the vital information required to properly treat the patient. 

Is Phlebotomy A Good Career?

We Think So!

Phlebotomy can be a rewarding career as you set to work with a variety of people. You get to help patients on a daily basis. On top of it all, it doesn't take a lot of time or money to start training. It's considered an entry-level career, but it's a much better option than many jobs.

 

Some alternative career paths that are related to phlebotomy include the following: 

Medical Technologist or Medical Lab Technician.

  • Patient Care Technician.

  • Histotechnologist and Biotechnicians.

  • Dialysis Technician: Hemodialysis.

  • Intravenous Technician.

  • Pathologist Assistant.

  • Medical Assistant.

  • Cytotechnologist.

  • Health & Wellness Technician.

  • Spas & Wellness centers

Is It Easy To Get A Job As A Phlebotomist?

Phlebotomy technicians who get Nationally certification usually have a better chance of getting hired by a medical facility. They also can start at a higher salary than those who don't have certification. 

Being Nationally Certified is a major steppingstone in the Phlebotomy market.

What Does A Phlebotomist Do?

  • Collect blood and other body fluid samples from patients

  • Practice proper patient identification, especially when working on hospital floors

  • Label vials with patient name and date of birth

  • Evaluate patients' ability to withstand the procedure

  • Explain blood-drawing procedure to patients and answer questions

  • Perform basic point of care testing, such as blood glucose levels

  • Prepare blood, urine and other specimens for testing

  • Verify patient/donor identity. Following chain of custody

  • Maintain medical equipment such as needles, test tubes, and blood vials

  • Perform Drug and Alcohol testing

 

Everyone has some type of anxiety when it comes to having their blood drawn.

It is your responsibility to make sure the patient has the best possible experience when you are drawing their blood. 

About Phlebotomy

The Good - The Bad - and The Ugly...

The world of phlebotomy is a very challenging and rewarding career option.  And as with any field, it has its pros and cons. One of the ways you may find helpful in evaluating a potential career choice is to look at those pros and cons and weigh them all out.
 

The Good:

  • Phlebotomy is a ''quick entry" field. - By that I mean that you can get into a career in phlebotomy in a relatively short period of time­ relative, at least, to what many other medical areas require. The training and certification process can often be achieved in 5-weeks or less.

  • Several Job Options - There is a wide array of options available as to where to apply your skills. Certainly hospitals and doctors' offices come readily to mind. But there also jobs available in diagnostic labs, blood banks, insurance Exams and Health and Wellness companies. And, the good news here, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics -the field of clinical technicians (which includes phlebotomists) is expected to grow at a rate of around 68% through 2023.

  • Flexible Hours -This can be considered a bad point as well, depending on your point of view. Some people prefer a set schedule with the same hours every day and working the same days each week. On the other hand, there are many people who enjoy having a varied and flexible schedule. In some cases, such as working as an independent contractor doing insurance physicals, Health and Wellness Events the phlebotomist can set their own schedule. The flexibility often makes it easier for you to schedule your work around other life events rather than always having to take a day off and miss work entirely.

  • Phlebotomy is a good stepping stone - Certification in phlebotomy can provide a solid foundation upon which to build. With the fast track to certification in this field you can be working and earning money while you pursue additional training.

 

The Bad:

  •  Working in phlebotomy entails certain risks - There is the danger of being accidentally stuck with a contaminated needle and contracting a serious disease as a result. There is also exposure to airborne contaminants.

  • Standing for long hours - Working in phlebotomy often requires standing for long hours during a shift, particularly if you are employed in an emergency room. Even just a few years of it can lead to varicose veins.

  • Can be stressful - Depending on where you apply your trade, the work: can be quite stressful. For example, in emergency rooms or trauma centers the level of stress often runs high. Of course, it isn't the phlebotomy itself which is stressful, but rather the overall work environment.

  • Risk of injuring patients - Phlebotomists have to assume the risk of possibly injuring a patient. This in itself is enough to create stress for many

       Some of the Possibilities include:

       -Missing the vein and causing nerve damage

       -Collapsing a vein through improper procedure

       -Nicking an artery causing an arterial bleed

  • ChildrenWhile working with children can be a pleasure, when it comes to phlebotomy it can be nerve-wracking and most challenging. Children are very unpredictable in their responses and can jerk and move suddenly and often violently. This presents a unique difficulty and danger to the phlebotomist, as well as to the child, as sudden movements can lead to accidental sticks. Many hospitals require their phlebotomists to use additional protective equipment when attempting a blood draw on a child.

 

The Ugly:

Exposure to dreadful sights: Many phlebotomy technicians find themselves working in hospital emergency rooms or trauma centers. This environment lends itself to seeing some dreadful and often horrid sights as the technician has to deal with accident victims, gunshot wounds, and all sorts of frightful accidents. These situations many times involve children or infants and it can be truly heart-wrenching.


DIFFICULT PATIENTS: Phlebotomy is a career that involves working with. the public. Some individuals you come across will be obnoxious, rude, and uncooperative, particularly if you encounter someone in an ER who is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.

Is Phlebotomy Training Worth It?

Phlebotomy shows no signs of slowing down as a booming career. In fact, as the population continues to get older and more technology comes forward, phlebotomy will keep growing! Because of that, you're likely to find more training programs all over the country.

Training to become a phlebotomist can get you into one of the best entry-level jobs in the medical field. For the little time it takes to complete training and the low cost of tuition, it's unlike most other medical positions that can take years of schooling and a lot of money.

Whether you've ever considered a career in healthcare, or you want a stable job with new responsibilities, training to become a National Certified Phlebotomist is worth it.

 

We hope this guide has given you a clear picture of what you can expect from a typical training program. Knowing the basics can give you a better idea of whether it's the right career choice for you.

How Do I Become A Certified Phlebotomist?

If you complete your regular phlebotomy training program. you may want to become Nationally certified. 

 

Not all states require certification. California, Nevada, Louisiana, and Washington are currently the only states that enforce it.

But it is a growing demand. Even if your state doesn't enforce it, becoming certified can increase your chances of getting hired in preference to someone else who is not. Certification also allows you to complete more advanced procedures. Eventually, that can lead to a pay raise or may even let you start out making more money than a phlebotomist who isn't certified.


Many programs that offer phlebotomy training also provide extra training to become Nationally certified. Each type of certification is slightly different.
 

Some of the most common certifications include:

  • Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)

  • Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT)

  • National Certified Phlebotomy Technician (NCPT)

Is Phlebotomy Training Difficult?

It's easy to think that just because a training program takes less than a year that it's easy. Whether a phlebotomy training program is easy for someone or not will significantly depend on the individual. Some people might breeze through it without any troubles. Others may find it's not for them.

One thing to keep in mind is that you'll probably excel more in phlebotomy training if you have interest in the medical field. It may be difficult for someone who doesn't have an interest in the human body or its functions. If you're squeamish about blood, it might not be the career for you in the first place.

Training can be easy when it comes to scheduling. Because so many phlebotomists are needed around the country, it's pretty simple to find a training program. But, that doesn't mean the materials covered are always easy. Don't assume that just because it's an entry-level job that it isn't taken seriously.

In fact, because phlebotomists see so many patients a day, it's important to pass your training program with confidence. If a phlebotomist makes a mistake on the job by mislabeling a blood sample or harming a patient, their career and their place of employment could be in serious trouble.

Perhaps the hardest part of phlebotomy training is the understanding that accidents happen sometimes. So do unfortunate situations. It's crucial that you're confident enough in your training and skills that you can handle these situations if they ever come up.

Some Potential Complications Include:

  • Having to use a different draw site if the original draw site cannot be used.

  • Blood stops flowing into the tube during a draw.

  • Patient has an adverse physical reaction.

  • Patient has a hematoma.

Training cannot necessarily prepare you to stay calm under pressure. But, the more training you do have, the more likely it is that you'll be able to hand the above situations professionally.

What Are The Safety Procedures?

Learning safety and sanitization in phlebotomy training is imperative. Each hospital, clinic, or private practice has their own rules on what you can and can't do. Many of these rules include extra safety precautions specifically for that location. But, there are some of the basic safety rules that all phlebotomists need to follow. These procedures are taught throughout the training period.

One of the most important things a phlebotomist needs to do is protect themselves and their patients. That's why alcohol swabs are used to clean an area before a needle is used. Phlebotomists should also always wear gloves when they are working with a patient. Personal protective gear should always be worn to keep you safe from any spills or accidents.

Using sterile tools is also essential. New needles and blood vials need to be used with every patient Phlebotomists have to take responsibility for the equipment they use. This is done by testing it out ahead of time and determining which equipment is right for each patient's testing.

 

Finally, following safety measures for storing and transporting blood is vital. It's the responsibility of a phlebotomist to learn about property labeling the vials of blood they draw. Those vials then need to be organized and transported to a lab for testing. This makes sure the patient's blood isn't wasted or mislabeled in any way.

Does a Phlebotomist Need to Take CPR Training?

You are not required to have your CPR Certification in order to take the Certified Phlebotomy class.

A CPR Certification is required to work in the medical field. 

You can always look online to find a Certified CPR training program near you.

What Equipment Does A Phlebotomist Use?

One of the most critical parts of phlebotomy training is understanding the basic equipment you'll have to use on a regular basis. Some pieces of equipment can be added. It all depends on the type of testing that's being done.

But your training should include how to use the following tools properly:

  • Collection tubes with color-coded tops

  • Needles of different sizes used for collection tubes or as a syringe

  • Tourniquets

  • Needle disposal units

  • Alcohol Swabs

  • Gloves

  • Cotton swabs

 

Being knowledgeable of your equipment is essential in phlebotomy. Using the right equipment for each patient is necessary. This is all a part of being organized, too. Most phlebotomists will enter a room to draw blood with a tray. This tray should have all the necessary equipment for that individual patient.

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