Phlebotomists work in numerous places including laboratories, hospitals, medical offices and clinics.
To be a phlebotomist, an individual must be patient, compassionate, have the ability to keep up with a fast-paced work environment and possess excellent communication skills.
I Know I Want to Be a Phlebotomist, How do I Begin My Career?
To begin your career as a phlebotomist, you must obtain a certificate from a Phlebotomy Certificate Program.
How Long Will That Take?
These certificate programs are very quick, usually only taking about four months. Once the program has been completed, you can sit for one of the national certification exams.
Does a Phlebotomy Certificate Program Qualify as a College Unit Course?
Generally, it does not. It is a program that awards the graduate a Phlebotomy Technician certificate/diploma.
What is the Curriculum Like for a Phlebotomy Certificate Program?
Subjects that are covered in these kinds of programs vary depending on which school you attend. Below is a list of the kinds of courses that will most likely be offered by the majority of schools.
Anatomy & Physiology Overview
This course will help you understand the various systems and structure of the human body. You will learn about tissues, cells and the major organs. It will review disease processes and may also cover diagnostic treatment modalities.
This course teaches you about safe work practices when handling needles or related systems. You will learn about the safety features and various devices that you will be using in your career as a phlebotomist. This course is extremely important because it teaches you ways to prevent the spread of Bloodborne pathogens.
Introduction to Medical Terminology
This course will teach you the spelling and correct terms to use for all parts of the body. You may also learn terms related to common disorders, diseases and treatments.
This course will concentrate on teaching you the basic infection prevention principles in relation to collecting blood, sputum and urine samples.
You will learn how to apply government regulations for biohazard and standard wastes, the requirements set forth by the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA), CDC guidelines for hand hygiene and the importance of using Universal Precautions when dealing with all body fluids and blood.
Non-Blood Specimen Collection & Tests
Phlebotomists collect specimens other than blood. These specimens can include urine and sputum. Phlebotomists will sometimes be asked to perform a throat swab for strep tests. This class will teach you everything you need to know about collecting non-blood specimens.
This course teaches you how to place orders for physicians using common laboratory programs. You may also learn how to enter billing codes for procedures related to blood draws, urine and sputum collection.
Phlebotomists are generally covered under their employers liability insurance; however, it is important for a phlebotomist to know what legal issues could arise and why. Usually, negligence is the main concern of phlebotomists. These cases arise when a phlebotomist does not follow the general phlebotomy procedures.
CPR & First Aid
This class will teach you how to care for an individual suffering with an injury or illness until medical assistance arrives. This training also entails preventing an injury from occurring in the first place. You will also learn about responder safety.
The CPR portion of this course will teach you how to safely perform CPR on an adult, child and infant. While you may have taken a CPR course previously, depending on the time your course was taken, there have been numerous changes made in the CPR technique.
Blood Collection Practices
In this course, you will learn how to collect and then process blood specimens. You will learn the different equipment and procedures used for venipuncture, capillary and arterial blood draws. Some of the tubes used to collect blood have special additives in them. You will learn about these additives and the proper order of a blood draw. The order of the blood draw is determined by the tests being ordered and types of tubes being used for those particular tests.
You will learn about the blood tests that require special treatment following collection. For instance, the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood draw must be put on ice immediately following its collection. You will also learn how to perform bleeding time tests.
This course focuses on limiting workplace accidents. It will teach you what you need to know to stay safe in a fast-paced, busy environment.
It also teaches students what to do in case of an emergency situation in the workplace. For instance, you will most likely learn about fire safety and chemical spills.
This class teaches students how to deal with customers/patients in various situations.
Will I Also Be Required to Perform Clinicals?
Yes, the majority, if not all, schools will have their phlebotomy students complete a certain number of hours practicing at local facilities.
How Long will My Clinicals Last?
Generally, clinicals take approximately three weeks, full-time to complete. Of course, if you attend part-time, it will take longer. Usually, 100 hours of clinicals are the minimum required to complete your externship.
Will I Have an Opportunity to Practice Drawing Blood Before I Start My Clinicals?
Yes, your initial venipuncture practice will take place on an arm created to assist phlebotomists and nurses in learning how to draw blood. These arms have realistic feeling skin with veins and fluid to simulate blood. You will progress to live venipunctures by drawing one another in class. Your instructor or instructor’s assistant will supervise all live venipunctures that occur in the classroom.
During My Clinical Externship, is There a Particular Number of Venipunctures that I am Required to Perform?
Yes, typically a phlebotomy student must complete a minimum of 100 unaided and successful capillary punctures and venipunctures on patients. When hospitals or clinics are mentoring other students, you may have to wait for your turn to complete your clinicals.
How will I Keep Track of My Venipunctures and Capillary Punctures?
Generally, phlebotomy students will save the lids from the needles they used for their successful venipunctures. You will probably perform fewer capillary punctures than venipunctures; you will need to keep track of those on a piece of paper.
Do I Have to Wait Until I Pass the National Certification Exam to Apply for a Job?
If you reside or plan to work in California or Louisiana, you may have trouble obtaining a position, unless you have successfully completed a certification exam. These two states require their phlebotomists are certified prior to working. However, in the other 48 states, you should be able to apply for jobs and may even obtain a position prior to completing your certification exam.
If I Obtain Employment Prior to Becoming Certified, Do I Still Need to Take the Certification Exam?
While you may find employment without certification, it is recommended that you still become certified. Although you may want to wait, it is not advised. Eventually all states may require certification and it is better to take the initial exam directly out of school than several years into your career. Chances are you will remember more of the technical terms and information directly following completion of a phlebotomy program.