Phlebotomy Training. Learn How to Become a Phlebotomist

Phlebotomy is a vital field of medicine where one’s services are always welcome. It entails more than withdrawing blood samples or specimens for testing by venipuncture or dermal puncture. You’ll be helping in different blood drives as a donor phlebotomist or lend a hand to older individuals by commuting to nursing homes as a mobile phlebotomist. This is one of the easiest to enter medical professions, with phlebotomy training being relatively inexpensive and not hard to pursue. While this might be the biggest advantage of the phlebotomy profession, the fact that training and certification are affordable, it is also a reason for which finding a good job with a rewarding salary is not always easy, the number of candidates for a single position being quite high. To overcome this problem you need to have proper training, chose your school correctly, get the right certification  and learn how to gain experience as a novice phlebotomist. If this peaks your interest in the wonderful world of phlebotomy, the following lines will guide you on how to become one.

The Interpersonal Qualities of a Phlebotomist

Because you’ll be working directly with people, some of which may fear needles, you need to have good interpersonal skills and qualities to help calm the patients or blood donor.

  • Attention to Detail: As a phlebotomist, you should take special care while withdrawing blood from the patient’s vein. Even afterwards, once you have the specimen, you must be careful to label it properly to avoid any confusion later.
  • Listening Skills: If you’re considering the field of phlebotomy, it’s important that you excel in their art of listening. This is essential for your patients’ safety because they may share information regarding their allergies or fear of needles. Regardless, this type of information will help you take care of them properly. If your listening skills are great, your patients will feel more at ease around you.
  • Stamina and Compassion: As a phlebotomist, you’ll often be on your feet all day long. Because of the steady stream of patients coming to you for blood work, chances are that you’ll be busy most of the time and rarely get a break. Therefore, not only do you need stamina for this job, but you must also be compassionate and capable of showing patients that you really care even when you’re tired.
  • Friendly and Gentle: If you’re a friendly phlebotomist, you won’t have much trouble calming your patients down and making them feel at ease. That aside, if you have a very hard touch and handle your patient roughly, you may anger your patients or harm others whose skin is sensitive.

Becoming a Phlebotomist

Phlebotomy Tubes

To become a phlebotomist, you must be properly certified and have at least some amount of training. However, because there are different pre-requisites and requirements for every state, make sure that you’re getting your information from the right places. You should also check to see if the schools or institutes you’re considering are licensed and recognized officially by the government because there are a lot of places running scams and frauds.
If you’re looking to become a trainee phlebotomist, you must understand that most employers are searching for students who have gone through high school or its equivalent before joining a reputable phlebotomy school. You’ll also be considered if you have previous experience of working in a similar role.

Phlebotomist Training

If you’re thinking about obtaining proper and professional training, you should carefully pick out the right school. After all, this will be the base of your future career. More on that will be mentioned a little bit later. During your training, you’ll learn important aspects, including:

  • Your primary role as a phlebotomist and importance in the pathology department
  • The importance of the standards and codes you’ll abide by during your years as a phlebotomist
  • Methods for collecting blood samples and labeling them in the correct form
  • Choosing the appropriate method and sites for collecting the samples
  • The importance of health and safety for your patients

These principles are taught as part of a number of courses. In case you’re wondering, some of the courses which you’ll take during your phlebotomy training are:

  • Anatomy and Physiology: During this course, you’ll learn about the circulatory, respiratory, muscular functions as well as symptoms the body shows.
  • Blood and Cell Composition: Understanding blood and cell composition will help you because it teaches you about the different ways in which blood and cells are affected by diseases and infection. This in turn will help you understand your field of study in a better way.
  • Blood Sampling Procedures: The main method you’ll be using throughout your career as a phlebotomist will be venipuncture, therefore it’s important that you understand that different people, newborns, children and adults need to be handled with different techniques.
  • Laboratory Safety: A very important and crucial course that you’ll have to learn revolves around the way you handle and clean the equipment used in the lab. You’ll also have to learn about how you can protect yourself and your co-workers from physical harm or infections.

More on phlebotomy classes and how to pick up the correct school in our dedicated article

Watch this great video to get more familiar with phlebotomy training:

Phlebotomy Training Cost

After this quick overview of the material covered in phlebotomy training, you must be wondering what the cost of this program may be. While the cost will vary from state to state, the average cost for these programs will range anywhere from $600 to $2,500 per semester. Any school that offers a cheaper program will probably be running a scam and you’ll end up wasting your time and resources. One way to keep the cost under control is to avoid vocational schools because they are the most expensive. Go instead at a community college, you will get proper training at an affordable price. You definitely have to compare prices from more then a few schools in your area. The differences can be significant.

Once you have the necessary and essential training, you’ll be awarded with a Certificate of Competence, which will allow you to work without supervision by your seniors or physicians. However, you must also consider that your employer may ask you to pursue higher qualifications such as a Diploma in Clinical Healthcare Support or Diploma in Blood Donor Support, both of which are high-end specializations of phlebotomy.

Online Phlebotomy Training

If you can’t afford going to a phlebotomy school or are currently working somewhere and can’t afford to take time off to study, online phlebotomy training is the answer. Since this is a relatively new option, you need to weigh your decision properly. To help you with this choice, take the following pros and cons into consideration.

Pros

  • Convenience: One of the biggest reasons why people opt for online training is because it’s quite convenient. You won’t need to drive yourself to the school or institute offering phlebotomy training. Online training is also convenient because you won’t need to rush to get to the class in time.
  • Flexibility: If you’re planning to enroll in online phlebotomy training, you’ll need to take online classes and watch lectures and videos. All of these will be available to you at your own pace and convenience. Most of the schools offering online courses will allow you to access the information you need 24/7. You’ll also have the flexibility of submitting your assignments at any time. Therefore, you can continue carrying out important tasks even while you’re studying phlebotomy online.

Cons

  • No Actual Interaction with Teachers: Though you’ll be able to interact with your teachers and instructors through video chat, emails and your school’s website, you won’t have the chance to interact with them in person. While email and video chatting are good methods for communication, they lack the personal interaction required by most while learning. As a result, it won’t be possible for you to use conventional learning methods. This is a major setback because phlebotomy training has many essential courses that require face to face communication.
  • Isolation: Not only do students who obtain training from a physical classroom have the benefit of interacting with their teachers, but they can also communicate with their colleagues and classmates and eliminate the boring aspect of a number of subjects. Even though video discussions are offered by some of the best healthcare educational intuitions, you’ll be restricted because you can only interact with your trainer or instructor.
  • Reputation: Another disadvantage of online phlebotomy training is that it isn’t viewed as professional or reputable by some of today’s employers. Even though employment standards vary from state to state, most will prefer that you get your training from a traditional school setting as opposed to an online one. The best thing you can do in this case is to do as much research about the employers in your area and determine whether or not online training is valued in the state.
  • Need for Tech Savviness: If you’re enrolling in an online training phlebotomy course, you’ll be expected to know how to use a computer like an expert. You shouldn’t only know how to email and submit your homework and assignments online, but also understand how to access different databases to get videos and other materials. While this may seem quite easy for newer generations, this can be an obstacle for those who were in this field for over two decades.

More about online phlebotomy training in our dedicated articles

Clinical Training in Phlebotomy

One of the vital parts of phlebotomy training is clinical training. While requirements vary from state to state, you’ll need almost 40 hours of training in a clinical setting to gain practical experience. Because clinical training is provided with most courses, you won’t need to pay extra for it. However, to ensure that your training goes smoothly and to be able to work in this field, it’ll be best if you get malpractice insurance. This document will cover you in case you make a mistake. If you’re shaking your head at the thought, you need to be realistic. Even though you’ll be very careful during your venipunctures and other procedures, mistakes are inevitable and even a small error may get you into trouble.

Remember that you will still need proper clinical training when opting to study phlebotomy online.

Requirements for Phlebotomy Training

Aside from everything you had read so far, here are a few requirements which you may need to fulfill in order to become a full-fledged phlebotomist.

  • You’ll either need to pass high school or have a good score on your GED (General Education Development) exam. If you’re a foreign student, you’ll need to sit for the GED. You must also be aware of other educational requirements for the specific state you plan to get your certification from.
  • To become part of a phlebotomy class, you must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Third, even though the trends and standards vary, you’ll be asked about your current vaccinations. You’ll also have to pass a drug and background test.
  • Finally, English language proficiency is essential. Without it, you won’t be able to understand or comprehend the lectures and lessons phlebotomy schools offer. This is true for both physical as well online phlebotomy training.

Medical Requirements

Most of the phlebotomy schools you apply at may require that you fulfill some medical requirements. Here are a few of them:

  • Physical Exam: When you apply for this course, you’ll be required to go through a physical exam which will be conducted no more then 12 months before you begin the course. This exam will be signed by a physician and will specify and guarantee that you have no physical limitations that will restrict your participation in the classroom or clinical setting.
  • Health Provider Evaluation and Clearance for Mask Fit Testing: One of the important medical examinations you’ll need is this one. It can be part of your physical exam, but you can be tested for this separately. For it, men have to shave their facial air to conduct this test in class.
  • Immunization: Before applying, you’ll also need to provide proof of general immunizations such as Hepatitis B, Measles-Mumps-Rubella and Varicella. Some training schools will also ask you for tuberculosis and Tdap.

Not all schools or areas will need these requirements; and while some may need all, most will only ask for proof of immunization as this is quite important in your field of expertise.

More on the phlebotomist training requirements in our dedicated article

Choosing a Phlebotomy School

In order to start your phlebotomy training the right way, you need to choose the right school. If you’re wondering what makes an institution ‘right’, here are the criteria you should assess it by.

  • Cost of Tuition – The cost of the program is definitely one of the things that can help you decide. However, keep in mind that a cheaper program doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get the knowledge and skills you need for this career. If you need to reduce your tuition fees, consider applying for financial aid or asking the school if it offers a private financing option.
  • School’s Reputation – After creating a list of all the phlebotomy schools in your area, fire up your browser and find out about each institution’s reputation. Comments or reviews from current students or alumni will give you an idea of whether the school is worth enrolling in. You may also want to contact local hospitals and diagnostic labs to get their feedback and determine your employment chances if you graduate from there.
  • Accreditation – The program you choose should be accredited or else your time and money will go to waste. This is especially true if you live in one of the states that demand phlebotomy licensing from practitioners. California, for example, has a public list with approved training schools 
  • Duration – While you may aim at starting your career quickly, you’ll need to take things slow and complete the 160-200 training hours to gain the skills required for your future job. Anything shorter will waste your resources and reduce your employ-ability chances.
  • Practice – The program you choose should offer you ample opportunities to practice what you learn. That way, you can gain little experience before you graduate from the program.

More about phlebotomy classes and how to chose your school in our in-depth article

Certification and Recertification

Whereas training is the process of developing skills related to theory, certification is a formal assessment of your ability to understand industry-accepted practices. If you’re in California, Washington, Nevada, and Louisiana, you’ll need certification in order to get a state license and practice phlebotomy.
On the other hand, if your state doesn’t mandate a certification, getting one will be a great career move since it shows your future employer how dedicated you are to this field. Besides, once you get certified, you’ll need to be recertified after a period of time. This will ensure that you learn about the latest in this field since you’ll need courses or continuing education units (CEUs).

To become certified and later re-certified, here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Find out the certification exam’s requirements and collect the necessary documents.
  2. Apply to the certification agency online or via mail. Remember to include all the required documents and fees.
  3. Start preparing for the certification test.
  4. Take the exam and wait for your results.
  5. If you need a phlebotomist license, apply for one before you start working at a healthcare institution.
  6. Apply for or purchase CEUs in order to be recertified before your certification expires.

Final Thoughts

Phlebotomy is an interesting career as it allows you to become part of a medical team quickly and help patients regain their health. Besides, the job is highly in demand, especially with the latest healthcare reform Obamacare. Hospitals are opening their arms to different medical professionals to accommodate the waves of patients availing the benefits of the new reform.
However, keep in mind that since phlebotomy is currently at its peak, you may find trouble getting employed. To improve your chances of a better job and get an edge over others, study at a reputable school, indulge in practical training whenever you get the opportunity, and volunteer to gain experience. If you abide by these bits of advice, rest assured that you’ll thrive in one of the top paying jobs in the U.S.

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