Phlebotomist Training and Education

Training to be a Phlebotomist

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The phlebotomist’s job centers around drawing and analyzing blood. They will typically take blood from a patient’s arm, though they also use a number of other blood collection techniques in their line of work. Once they’ve drawn blood, they will label and transport it to the appropriate facility for analysis or storage. Often phlebotomists will also perform various tests on blood samples and provide their diagnosis or opinion to the appropriate medical personnel.

The Skinny on Phlebotomist Training

An aspiring phlebotomist can usually achieve proficiency in a fairly short time, following one of two courses available to them. The first option is a 12-week four-credit course that provides a training certificate as a phlebotomy technician. The second is a two-semester program that provides a medical technician certificate focusing on the specifics of phlebotomy, as well as on collecting other samples, performing manual and computerized testing, and in reporting results.

Students do also have the option of pursuing a more advanced associate’s or bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory or medical technology; however, these programs only include phlebotomy as one part of a comprehensive curriculum. In some cases, pursuing an advanced degree may result in a higher salary and wider employment opportunities.

During the educational program, students will also prepare for a certification exam. While most states don’t require phlebotomists to retain a license, most employers do, so this is an important step in the aspiring phlebotomist’s training course.

Starting Early

Before beginning any training course, you will need a high school diploma or GED. You should typically have high grades in math and science, and it’s a good idea to take AP courses in these subjects. Since you’ll be working with high-tech lab equipment and computer programs, it’s helpful to have a high degree of computer literacy and a healthy degree of mechanical savvy so that you can avoid a drastic learning curve in these areas.

Phlebotomy Tech Certificate Program

As mentioned, the first option is a phlebotomy program at a community college or technical school. This 12-week program will instruct students in the basics of blood collection, and will typically include a lot of hands-on practice in the different collection techniques and methods.

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Aside from learning how to collect blood by venipuncture, dermipuncture and micro-collection, students may also learn how to collect, process and report on other clinical specimens. Course work may include subjects like:

– Anatomy and Physiology

– Blood Collection Technology

– Medical Terminology

– Methods of Collecting Blood

– Blood Banking

Medical Tech Certificate Program

This certification route caters to a broader range of medical technicians. Medical techs typically work in labs or hospitals performing analyses on medical samples. Phlebotomists fall into this category, though the program also includes dialysis techs, sonography techs, x-ray techs, and others.

In a course like this, students may study a broader range of subjects even though they specialize in a specific, narrow subject area. Some will specialize in a large number of areas, giving them more versatility in the work environment, while others will focus on mastering a few specific tasks in their chosen field – for example, phlebotomy.

A certificate program for a medical tech typically takes one year to complete. Courses may include:

– Chemistry

– Pathology

– Clinical Microbiology

– Medical Terminology

– Anatomical Terminology

– Medical Laboratory Skills

– Inventory Management

Licensure

At some point during a phlebotomy training course, students will have the opportunity to prepare for and take a certification examination. Several agencies offer certification, though each has its own unique requirements for licensure. Students may apply for licensure through American Medical Technologists, The American Society of Clinical Pathologists or the National Healthcare Association.

As mentioned previously, not all states require licensing before a phlebotomist can practice; however, employers do typically prefer it – and for some it is a prerequisite for employment. In most cases, it’s best to pursue licensure as part of a complete educational program.

Advanced Education Options

While advanced degrees focusing on phlebotomy don’t exist, a phlebotomist may choose to pursue a higher degree in medical technology or clinical laboratory science. This may not be something to pursue immediately, but many phlebotomists do choose to continue in their studies after a time, as a higher degree opens up greater opportunities professionally and financially.

An Associate’s Degree in Medical Technology is one popular option, as it adds to the clinical laboratory background that a phlebotomist already possesses. Phlebotomists with an associate’s degree may often move into a supervisory role, overseeing and managing a number of other technicians. Course topics may include:

– Medical Terminology

– Lab Tests and Technology

– Specimen Collection Methods

– Basic Emergency Procedures

– Laboratory Reporting

A second option is a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science. This degree program provides students with a much broader pathophysiological foundation in laboratory testing. Students will learn a wide variety of skills needed to perform medical or clinical lab tests, as well as the skills needed to develop and modify test procedures, monitor the various instruments and equipment, and collect and evaluate results. Most graduates of a bachelor’s degree program like this would be fully equipped to move immediately into a management or supervisory position in hospital and clinical laboratories.

A program like this will major largely on anatomy and chemistry. Students will of course be given lots of hands-on experience in blood and fluid analysis, clinical pathology, and even laboratory management. Common course topics include:

– Organic Chemistry

– Body Fluids

– Molecular Diagnostics

– Hematology

– Immunology

 Related Resources:

The Red Cross

Phlebotomy Training Programs

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