Phlebotomy Certification: An Overview of Courses, Classes and Requirements

A good number of geographic regions now require some level of phlebotomy certification for new technicians. This type of documentation provides employers a standard way to gauge whether phlebotomy job applicants have achieved minimum skill levels. Many medical facilities also prefer their technicians to be certified as a safeguard against legal risks. Working as a technician in this field involves collecting patient blood samples for a variety of reasons, such as transfusions, lab tests, or donations. Most vocational schools offer sets of required phlebotomy courses to teach interested students the skills they need in this medical job field. These types of certification programs normally focus on human biology concepts as they apply to safe phlebotomy procedures.

Required Phlebotomy Courses

Phlebotomy courses cover a broad spectrum of essential skills involving both practical and coursework

The typical certification program lasts one or two school years. A few programs are accelerated and last as little as two school semesters. Some of the most common phlebotomy courses include basic human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, basic clinical safety procedures, and medical ethics as they apply to the profession. Some schools also require classes in health information data entry, interpersonal communication, and the use of tools for blood extraction under sterile conditions.

Classes in human anatomy often focus on the circulatory system and prepare students to locate blood vessels in patients of different ages. Additional topics may include the functions of the nervous system and musculoskeletal system. These courses also give students the information they need to complete procedures with as little extra bleeding as possible. Courses in clinical safety are particularly important for understanding how to collect, store, and transport blood without the risk of contamination. This required phlebotomy certification class usually needs to be passed before enrollment in practicum lab courses.

Practical Lab Requirements

Most phlebotomy certification courses require a minimum one semester of lab practice for students who have passed their basic theory courses. A number of programs require phlebotomy students to first pass their medical terminology course in order to understand the language of medicine used in a clinical setting. This knowledge is meant to facilitate communication between technicians, doctors, and other medical personnel. Many students also need to complete at least one safety theory class as a condition of eligibility for the practicum section.

One of the first lab courses in phlebotomy certification is an introductory course covering basic venipuncture and capillary puncturing methods. This class also covers safe use of needles, tubes, and blood collection vials. Students also learn how to collect blood samples by pricking patient fingers or heels with the appropriate tools. Correct safety measures are among the most important topics for a phlebotomy student to learn, and these procedures normally appear on the certification exam for this career field.

Advanced practicum phlebotomy courses give students the opportunities to apply the skills they learned in the beginning course. Some school programs may require collection and examination of non-blood specimens to instil a better understanding of clinical lab procedures. Many of these course requirements start off with students practicing vein location on medical dummies before moving on to practicing on classmate volunteers. This final practicum is a core requirement for internship eligibility in most cases, and it also prepares students for their phlebotomy certification exams.

Phlebotomy Certification Testing

Phlebotomy certification or licensure is required in a few states before a new graduate is eligible to be hired for a phlebotomy job. Even in states that do not require certification, many hospitals and clinics prefer to hire phlebotomy technicians with certification. Several different state or national governing agencies administer these exams. A couple of the most common ones are the American Society for Clinical Pathology and the National Health Career Association. Many of these exams have both a written and a practical component.

Questions that often appear on phlebotomy certification exams cover subject matter such as medical acronyms, effective communication with patients, and the structure of blood collection tools. Students are usually queried on sterilization measures as well as infection control. Depending on the administering agency, test-takers may also need to demonstrate a correct blood-drawing procedure on a volunteer.

Minimum scores on both exam sections are usually conditions of passing a phlebotomy certification. Some states that require certification may also require technicians to take a continuing education course and renew their certificates after a certain number of years. Successful graduates who pass one of the initial exams often receive a designation of Certified Phlebotomy Technician, or CPT. This completed certificate indicates a good level of competency that increases phlebotomy job prospects in many cases.