A phlebotomist is a healthcare professional who is trained in the proper techniques for drawing blood from adults, teenagers, and children. Blood may be drawn for diagnostic testing, blood donations, drug screening, or transfusions. Phlebotomy jobs are plentiful in the United States and job opportunities for phlebotomists are expected to increase at an above-average rate in the ten years from 2008 to 2018.
The vast majority of phlebotomist jobs are in hospitals and medical laboratories. However, other potential employers include doctors' offices, clinics, urgent care centers, home healthcare agencies, colleges, universities, and professional schools.
Phlebotomists receive special training in blood collection techniques. Most blood is drawn with small needles inserted directly into a vein which is called venipuncture. Other blood collection methods include finger sticks and heel sticks which are primarily used to draw blood from infants. In special cases, blood can be drawn from the radial, or wrist, artery or the brachial, or inside elbow, artery.
Clinical laboratory testing of blood, tissues, and bodily fluids is extremely important in detecting, diagnosing, and treating all types of diseases. Phlebotomists assist other healthcare professionals by concentrating on blood specimen collection. In addition to actually drawing blood, phlebotomy jobs require adhering to carefully prescribed procedures for the following tasks:
People who are good candidates for phlebotomist jobs have excellent skills in handling patients who may be stressed and fearful. They should have superior hand-eye coordination and the ability to follow specific procedures and directions. Of course, phlebotomists should not be squeamish or bothered by handling blood or other bodily materials.
Phlebotomy training courses are offered by many community colleges and vocational schools. Courses range from a few weeks to a full year, depending on the exact curriculum. Phlebotomy training nearly always consists of both classroom and hands-on clinical sections. After completing the training, students can choose to take a certification exam to achieve the designation of Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT).
Only a few states, currently California and Louisiana, actually require certification for phlebotomy jobs. However, many employers will only hire workers who have been certified in phlebotomy techniques by a recognized agency. In the United States, organizations that offer certification examinations include the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), American Medical Technologists (AMT), the National Healthcareer Association (NHA), the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), the American Credentialing Agency (ACA), and the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians (ASPT).
Depending upon the certifying agency, successfully passing the exam will result in becoming a Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT). It should be noted that certification exams for other medical designations, such as the one for Certified Medical Assistants (CMA), may include phlebotomy procedures. It is important to check the certification requirements for the particular state in which you are searching for phlebotomy jobs.
Phlebotomists in hospitals and laboratories work directly with patients in environments that include other medical clinicians. A phlebotomist may spend a large portion of the day walking and standing. Some phlebotomists are responsible for maintaining and updating patient records, so potential employers may require a minimum typing speed for computer data entry. In other environments, such as home healthcare agencies or organizations that sponsor blood drives, phlebotomists may need to travel to remote locations to collect specimens.
Many people become certified phlebotomists as their first step in a healthcare career. The need for qualified phlebotomists is definitely growing and there are many openings for phlebotomy jobs throughout the country.