A phlebotomist draws blood samples from patients in healthcare facilities and hospitals. Degree programs concentrating on the science of phlebotomy are not usually available. Students interested in pursuing a career in phlebotomy and/or the laboratory department may want to consider enrolling in an Associate of Science program for clinical laboratory technicians. The coursework in this type of program will provide the necessary training to sit for one of the certification examinations.
Is There a Demand for Phlebotomists?
A phlebotomy technician is a specific kind of clinical laboratory technician. In 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) documented that approximately 328,000 laboratory technicians were employed by medical facilities and hospitals across the nation. The job growth rate for phlebotomists is faster than average and is expected to reach 14 percent by 2018.
How Much Do Phlebotomists Earn?
The average salary of a phlebotomist in 2012 is about $30,000 a year. This is an excellent salary for an entry-level position not requiring a four-year college degree. This salary is also one of the highest salaries paid to an entry-level health care professional.
What are the Benefits of Obtaining a Clinical Laboratory Technician Associate of Science degree?
Phlebotomists must study the science of phlebotomy either in a certificate-training program, as part of a degree program in medical assisting or clinical laboratory assisting.
What are the Prerequisites I Have to Fulfill before I can Enroll in a Clinical Laboratory Technician Associate of Science Degree Program?
Students who are interested in enrolling in this program, need to have a high school diploma or GED. They should also possess a solid aptitude for science and mathematics.
Is There Anything in Particular that I need to Look for When Choosing a Program?
Yes, you want to find a program that is recognized by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, otherwise known as the NAACLS.
Once I Find a Program that is Accredited by the NAACLS, How Long will it Take to Complete?
Generally, this type of program will take about two years to complete.
How Will I Benefit from a Clinical Laboratory Technician Associate of Science program?
It will provide you with a solid background in the basic diagnostic procedures utilized in the healthcare industry as well as an understanding of the healthcare field in general.
What Will I Learn?
In the classroom, you will learn the basics of phlebotomy, hematology, blood banking, clinical chemistry, microbiology and urinalysis.
Will I Be Required to Complete Clinicals?
Yes, you will need to work in a clinical setting as part of your associate’s degree program.
What is the Purpose of Clinicals?
You will have the opportunity to apply the medical procedure theories you learned in the classroom to practical situations.
What are Students Taught in the Clinical Laboratory Technician Associate of Science program?
This associate’s degree program must provide students with a basic understanding of diagnostic procedures and healthcare principles. It should also give students step-by-step instructions that will allow them to successfully carry out those procedures.
What is the Curriculum Like?
To graduate this type program, students will usually be required to complete approximately 90 credit hours of classes. There are colleges that allow some of the required classes to be taken online. Students will be required to complete an externship as well.
While the subjects offered may vary depending on which school you choose to attend, course topics that are likely to be incorporated into this kind of program include:
This course will cover the history of phlebotomy, the duties and job skills needed for the modern phlebotomist, legal issues related to phlebotomy, quality assurance, patient confidentiality and informed consent.
You will be taught:
- How to collect patient information and beneficial communication techniques.
- The different equipment utilized to perform venipunctures and dermal punctures will be discussed and displayed in this class.
- Site selection and the methods used to perform a routine venipuncture, complications that may occur during or after a venipuncture and dermal puncture techniques.
- The various blood collection techniques that can be used in special circumstance. For instance, in the emergency room, nursery or intensive care unit, with a geriatric or pediatric patient, infection control and safety, safety hazards to consider, latex sensitivity, disaster emergency plans and about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.
Anatomy & Physiology
You will learn the vital principles related to human anatomy and physiology. These principles include an overview of body systems, studies on cells and tissues and basic chemistry.
Clinical Laboratory Principles
This course will cover numerous topics, some of which will include:
- The role the clinical laboratory plays in educating providers/physicians about various tests and their intended uses.
- Techniques used to communicate with the different clinical services the lab deals with regularly.
- What part the clinical laboratory scientist plays in the laboratory.
- General principles and specific topics are taught in this course related to hematology, clinical chemistry, microbiology, serology, transfusion medicine and immunology.
- You will be taught proper specimen collection techniques and processing.
- Basic clinical microbiology algorithms for culturing bacteria and identifying at which body site it was collected.
Students learn how to collect a quality urine sample and perform urinalysis tests using reagent strips. Students will also learn about some of the other urine tests used for diagnosis. These tests may include the microalbumin test, urine glucose test, heat and acid test for urinary protein.
This course will introduce you to variables that can affect test results and the automated analyzers used for the various chemistry tests performed in the lab.
This class concentrates on the kinds of math relevant to the laboratory. You will learn about scientific notation, the difference between normality, molality, molarity, density and percent.
Topics studied in this course include contemporary and fundamental issues related to cell biology, biological chemistry, various life forms and genetics.
This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the normal coagulation process. It also teaches students how to perform blood coagulation tests on patients.
Advanced Blood Banking
You will be taught how to interpret peripheral blood smears and bone marrow.
Your instructor will also cover indications for transfusion and possible transfusion reactions.
You will learn what a ‘type and screen’ is and how to perform the procedure.
Is Certification Essential?
Although only two states, California and Louisiana, require all their phlebotomists be certified, it is considered essential by many of the healthcare establishments that hire phlebotomists.
How Do I Become Certified?
Once you have completed your associate’s degree program, you can sit for your certification exam through one of the phlebotomy certification organizations. There are numerous organizations to choose from, including the National Healthcareer Association (NHA), the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) and the National Phlebotomy Association.
Which Organization Should I Choose?
The organization you choose to become certified with should be the organization that your potential employer prefers. That said, one of the most preferred organizations is the ASCP.