Are you looking for a hands-on career in the medical field but don’t know where to start? Phlebotomy may be an excellent career to look at. The profession may seem complicated from a distance, but once you start, you’ll realize that it’s simple and just requires that you Learn and perfect specific skills. The job is very rewarding, but you’ll need to be passionate about it to make a good career out of it. To help you understand what phlebotomy entails and how to pursue a career in it, here’s a detailed article on the subject matter.
What is a Phlebotomist?
Phlebotomists are professionals trained to draw and prepare blood for medical testing, transfusions, or donation. They typically adopt different processes depending on the circumstances to collect blood. The most popular blood collection processes are venipuncture, finger pricks, and heel pricks in the case of infants. Most trained phlebotomists would work in hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, clinics, blood donation centers, outpatient care facilities, etc.
What Phlebotomists Do?
Whether it’s in a hospital or a blood donation center, phlebotomists play crucial roles in the management and administration of blood drawn for transfusion, diagnosis, and research purposes. Depending on the day’s schedule, phlebotomists may be charged with doing any of the following:
- Preparation of patients for the process of blood donation
- Verification of patients’ identities and ensuring proper labeling
- Explanation of the process and what it entails to patients
- Conduction of blood transfusions and draws
- Identification, labeling, and tracking of blood samples
Above all, phlebotomists must follow the instructions of a physician and show adequate care to patients.
What are the Steps to Becoming a Phlebotomist?
Phlebotomists are typically required to have a basic understanding of written and spoken communication. They are also required to have a grasp of basic math skills. Every phlebotomist receives on-the-job training, but factors like background and time availability will always affect your career route. If you’re convinced that you have the skills to pursue a career in Phlebotomy, you absolutely should. However, you’ll need to ask important questions like:
- How long does it take to become a phlebotomist
- How much does it cost to become a phlebotomist
- What are the steps involved, etc.?
Here’s a quick review of some of the common steps to take to become a phlebotomist:
Graduate from high school
Perhaps it’ll interest you to know that you can work as a phlebotomist without a college degree. However, you must have a high school diploma to stand any chance. Alternatively, a GED certificate also qualifies you to start the journey towards being a phlebotomist.
Apply to any accredited phlebotomy programs
Fortunately, there are a number of phlebotomy programs available. So, instead of pursuing a degree immediately after high school, you can opt to apply for one of them. However, if you’re already in college, don’t worry; you can still apply for many of these programs as an adult.
To enter for a phlebotomy program, you’ll need the following:
- A well-filled application
- Proof of graduation from a high school or GED certification.
- Immunization records
- Background clearance
- CPR certification
Complete the phlebotomy program
It is one thing to start a program but another thing to complete it. Thankfully, phlebotomy programs don’t take too long to complete. Most programs (classwork and hands-on training) will be finished in about a year.
During this time, you’ll learn everything you should know about phlebotomy, including
- Standards and codes
- Blood sample collection methods
- Labeling and storage
- Site collection
- Patients’ health and safety
Take the certification exam
At the end of the program, you’ll be required to write an exam. Your performance in the exam shows how attentive you’ve been throughout the program. It also shows that you’re ready to explore the job. Although there’s a lot to learn on this job, passing the exam already indicates that you know just enough to take on the job of a phlebotomist. The exam covers every part of the program.
Earn a certificate
The whole essence of taking the program is to earn a certificate and become a qualified phlebotomist. So, as expected, passing the exams qualifies you for a certificate. However, the certificate is typically graded into three levels, including:
- Limited Phlebotomy Technician (LPT)
- Certified Phlebotomy Technician I (CPT I)
- Certified Phlebotomy Technician II (CPT II)
How Much Does It Cost to Become a Phlebotomist?
When it comes to determining how much it costs to become a phlebotomist, the key factor to consider is your program. Although the cost may vary from school to school and state to state, the final cost of becoming a phlebotomist depends on the program you choose. In-person classroom phlebotomy training can cost anywhere between $700 and $1400. On the other hand, accredited online training centers typically charge less. Most online training centers charge as low as $300.
However, bear in mind that some employers, such as the Red Cross and big hospitals, offer free training to their staff. Even when they charge, the fee is usually very small compared to what other training centers charge.
Apart from the training fee, there may be other fees to pay. For instance, the initial phlebotomy certification costs between $80 to $150. Certification renewal charges will vary based on different factors. Bear in mind that you’ll also need to buy textbooks and other training materials. So your budget should be as elaborate as possible when planning to train as a phlebotomist.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Phlebotomist?
It ultimately depends on the school and training program you choose and which certification you are applying for. We’ve seen people finish their programs and become certified phlebotomists in as little as four months. We’ve also seen people stay up to one and a half years in training. So it depends on a number of factors. However, we recommend finding out about your specific program from the training center before starting. Bear in mind that your phlebotomy training will be divided into two: classroom training and practical training.
As the name implies, this aspect of phlebotomy training involves classwork. It would usually take up 2/3 of your training. But even with that, training time is still significantly shorter than most other medical training. Some of the areas your classroom training would cover include:
- How to draw blood correctly
- How to calmly interact with patients
- Safety procedures
- Accurate labeling of medical forms.
We’ve said it before that most of your phlebotomy training would happen on the job. However, there’s still a provision for practical training during your studies. 1/3 of your training will be spent in practical training through internships and externships. You’ll cover areas like anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, etc.
What Skills Do You Need to Be a Successful Phlebotomist?
Phlebotomy is much more than drawing blood. As a phlebotomist, you’ll deal with different kinds of patients daily. It’s part of your job to understand each patient’s unique needs and ensure their full cooperation. The best phlebotomists have certain traits that enable them to deal with the workload of being a phlebotomist. In fact, most hospitals look at these skills when hiring, so having them already gives you a slight advantage as you venture into the field. That said, here are some of the top skills every phlebotomist would need.
Yes, your primary duty as a phlebotomist is to draw blood. But beyond that, you’ll need to make your patients as comfortable as possible through the process. Some patients are scared of having their blood drawn, and they’ll show it by fidgeting, missing appointments, or even screaming during the process. You must understand their fears and work with them towards overcoming them. Compassionate phlebotomists know how to make patients feel comfortable and at ease with the process.
The job of a phlebotomist is typically complex, with so many details to deal with. In addition to drawing the correct vials of blood needed for every test, phlebotomists must also be able to track vials of blood and correctly enter data into the available database. Achieving all these require an incredible level of attention to detail; otherwise, you may injure patients or lose specimens in the process. To be classified as a detail-oriented phlebotomist, you must also keep your work environment clean and organized to avoid infecting patients with diseases.
Good communication skills
We can’t overemphasize this point. The job of every phlebotomist involves constant communication. You are either booking appointments with patients, getting directives from a doctor, or submitting blood samples to a lab technician. All these require adequate communication. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many employers gravitate towards hiring phlebotomists with excellent written and verbal communication skills. Making yourself clear during communication will eliminate most of the frustration that comes with the job.
Physical dexterity (or motor skills) is a crucial skill for any phlebotomist. The job requires that you work with both hands. So whether you’re handling equipment or drawing blood, you must be able to control and coordinate your hands for quicker and more efficient results. Speed should never come at the detriment of patients’ comfort. Therefore, it is vital that you pay attention to your work and handle everything with utmost care. Some of the direct impacts of this skill include:
- Close vision
- Hand-eye coordination
- Working quickly
- Promoting workplace safety
- Chemical test performances.
Ability to multitask
Labs are typically very busy places with so many activities going on at once. Doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and even patients rely heavily on blood work results for proper diagnosis and prescription. Phlebotomists must always work on their toes to ensure that all these people get the blood their job requires in the right form. As a phlebotomist, you’d also work with tight deadlines. Being able to multitask would help you meet all the deadlines and requests without breaking down the process.
Phlebotomy typically requires that you work in a hospital or laboratory. Irrespective of the size of your workplace, you’ll be working with other people. As a team player, you’ll be able to work well with other people to deliver the highest possible standard of care to patients when they need it.
How Much Do Phlebotomists Make?
Now, let’s examine how much money a phlebotomist makes. For such a rigorous profession, one will expect a commensurate remuneration, and rightly so. The average earnings of a phlebotomist in the United States are $15.33 per hour. This translates to about $31,890 per annum.
As always, several factors can influence the average pay of a phlebotomist. So, you’ll want to note the factors and leverage them for better pay. One of the most significant factors that affect pay is experience. The more experience you have in drawing blood, the more settings you can confidently work in. This means more versatility and more value to your employer. So you’ll ultimately earn more because you bring more.
Another significant factor is the work area. Phlebotomists working in highly populated areas or affluent metro areas will earn more than phlebotomists working in rural or less affluent areas.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Become a Phlebotomist?
There you have it, a detailed look at how you can become a phlebotomist. This article has answered the question, “what does a phlebotomist do?” We’ve also highlighted what the career path entails and how to find out whether it is right for you. Remember, you’ll only enjoy this career path if you’re interested in pursuing a medical career that enables you to help many people at once. Otherwise known as phlebotomy technicians, phlebotomists typically collect blood from individuals for medical or insurance purposes. While exploring a career in phlebotomy can be very rewarding, it is crucial to ensure you have the needed skills before venturing into it. Fortunately, you can develop most of the required skills through personal training. So, if you feel like you’re lacking in any of them, you can start training yourself for them right away.