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Phlebotomy Schools, Online Phlebotomy Degree
Phlebotomists collect, test and analyze blood with the sole intent of diagnosing disease in the human body. There are a number of schools and colleges with degree programs in this field. An associate degree is generally sufficient for most entry-level jobs in this field, but undergraduate degrees also are offered. To find a program near you, enter your zip code into the search bar at the top of the page.
Training for a Career in Phlebotomy
A career in phlebotomy is not for the weak at heart. Using needles to draw blood from patients numerous times a day is just par for the course when you choose this healthcare career. So if you’re the type who is squeamish at the sight of blood, this may not be the career for you.
Phlebotomists can work for hospitals, medical facilities, laboratories or a blood bank. Smaller medical facilities and offices generally do not generate enough need for an on-site phlebotomist.
What Does a Phlebotomist Do?
There is more to being a phlebotomist than sticking a needle in a patient’s arm and drawing some blood. Accuracy, patience, good communication skills and the ability to work well under pressure are attributes all phlebotomists should possess. Because blood draws are an easy way to spread communicable diseases, phlebotomists must be careful when handling patients and samples to prevent the spread of disease.
Being able to calm fears also is an important part of the job. Many patients – including children – are often scared of having their blood drawn. Being able to ease the patient’s fears, while doing the job with minimal discomfort to the patient, is key to being a good phlebotomist.
In addition to drawing blood, phlebotomists also may perform the following tasks:
- Assembling equipment such as containers used for blood samples, needles, gauze, disinfectants and tourniquets;
- Following set procedure to verify patient records or the identity of a blood donor;
- Prepare the patient for a blood draw by applying a tourniquet to their arm, locating their vein, swabbing the area with a disinfectant such as alcohol and then inserting the needle into the vein to draw the blood sample;
- Label and store blood for testing or donation purposes;
- Check vital signs of patients;
- Screen potential blood donors;
- Test blood samples; and
- Analyze information related to blood donation/collection.
How to Become a Phlebotomist
There is more than one way to become a phlebotomist. Some medical facilities offer on-site training, which can last up to two months. Upon completion, you are able to work for that facility. In addition, you can pursue your phlebotomy education by getting an online phlebotomy degree, which is an ideal method for earning your certification without having to enroll in on on-campus school.
A more popular means of training, however, is through trade schools, vocational/technical school programs and community colleges. You can even get a phlebotomy degree online. The length of these courses at the best phlebotomy schools vary by facility. Phlebotomists who have received training through an accredited program are more likely to be hired.
Individual states set requirements to be a practicing phlebotomist in that state; however, most do not have set standards at this time beyond the requirement that a phlebotomist possess a high school diploma or GED and has received training in the field.
The only exception to that rule is the state of California, which requires all phlebotomists to be licensed and state certified. A list of schools approved to teach phlebotomy courses in California can be found on the California Department of Public Health’s website at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/lfs/pages/phlebotomist.aspx. Once training is completed, students also must pass a certification exam in California. There are six state-approved certification agencies. They are: the American Certification Agency in Osceola, IN; the American Medical Technologists in Park Ridge, IL; the American Society of Clinical Pathologists in Chicago, IL; the National Center for Competency Testing in Overland Park, KS; the National Credentialing Agency for Clinical Laboratory Personnel in Lenexa, KS; and the National Health Career Association in East Orange, NJ.
While other states do not have such stringent requirements, many doctors’ offices and medical facilities prefer to hire someone who has state or national certification. Because the rate of medical malpractice suits is on the rise, most facilities prefer to hire someone who is properly trained and certified.
Taking it One Step Further
Those who wish to pursue the field of phlebotomy on a higher level can do so by considering an advanced degree in cardio-phlebotomy. In addition to standard blood collection, a cardio-phlebotomist technician also is trained to perform EKGs for doctors, perform venipuncture procedures (gaining access to veins for various intravenous treatments) and learn how to control infections.
Requirements to become a cardio-phlebotomist include a high school diploma or GED, as well as proper training at a college, trade school or vocational program. Those entering the field can expect to train for nine months to two years, depending on the program they choose.
Like many other careers in the healthcare industry, the need for certified phlebotomists is on the rise. Salaries are generally an hourly-rate for phlebotomists, and can vary depending on skill level and experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, most facilities pay between $12 and $13 an hour for a trained phlebotomist.
Article by Shari Berg, SmartSchoolFinder.com