A phlebotomist is an individual who is qualified to draw blood from patients. Although drawing of blood can be performed by physicians and other health care professionals such as laboratory scientists, nurses and paramedics, the workload can be greatly reduced in the rapidly growing health care industry when certified phlebotomists are employed. Phlebotomists are health care professionals who solely focus in the collection of blood in clinics, hospitals, laboratories and blood drives.
Requirements to become a certified phlebotomist vary by state. In the past, phlebotomy is a skill that can be learned on the job and from experience. However, in recent years, states have started to require phlebotomists to train for about two to four months at a trade school, vocational school, community college or career center to become certified. In most states, prospective phlebotomists are required to have a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED) prior to taking at least six-weeks of a phlebotomist certification course. This program includes a minimum of 40 hours of coursework and 100 hours of clinical training at an approved hospital, doctor’s clinic or nursing home. Upon completion of the program, a prospective phlebotomist can get licensure or a certification examination from a state-recognized certification agency. In California, for instance, phlebotomists must complete a state-approved phlebotomy course and successfully pass the examination issued by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA), American Medical Technologists (AMT), American Society for Clinical Pathology’s Board of Certification (ASCP-BOC), American Credentialing Agency (ACA), and the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) also tests a licensee’s skill in phlebotomy in their examination. However, individuals seeking a phlebotomist certification must first check with the healthcare employers if a certification is valid since not all are accepted by employers.
Almost all phlebotomists possess a certificate to practice in the field while some have 2-year or 4-year degrees. In most phlebotomy programs, students learn phlebotomy skills both through a classroom and a clinical setting. Not everyone, however, can be a good phlebotomist no matter how much training they have received. Phlebotomists must be comfortable communicating and interacting with people since the majority of their work is dealing with patients. They must possess these skills so that they can clearly understand their patients’ needs and for them to clearly respond to their patient’s concerns as well. Phlebotomists must be also able to follow straightforward guidelines and directions given to them by their employers. Additionally, they must be comfortable around needles and in handling blood and they must also be able to confidently perform important procedures.
Since phlebotomists work in different settings such as in laboratories, research facilities, blood banks, private clinics and home health agencies, they must also learn how to deal with different kinds of people ranging from their patients to their co-workers. They must also be comfortable working with people from all races, age groups, and backgrounds.
Phlebotomists can also perform clerical work such as filing and data entry therefore proficiency in computers is also ideal. Knowledge in computers and skills in office work can help phlebotomists perform duties such as maintaining patient records, filing and recording laboratory evaluations, cleaning and sterilizing instruments and maintaining equipments.