Phlebotomy Training: Where to Start?

You have always wanted a career in healthcare services where you can help people who might be going through difficult times. The idea of taking phlebotomy training appeals to you as it means working directly with adults and children in drawing blood for testing. This assists physicians in diagnosing illnesses and prescribing the best treatment.

Now, you need to gather information to develop your career plan. This starts with understanding what the job entails, seeing if you have the qualifications to do this work, and then deciding exactly what kind of training is the best for you. You should also review the process for the national certification that is required in many job postings.

Job Responsibilities

Phlebotomists usually work in hospitals or clinics as an important part of the medical team. As laboratory technicians, their work includes the following.

  • Drawing blood through venipuncture and fingersticks, using vein preservation techniques.
  • Proper labeling of specimens.
  • Reporting bleeding times according to standard procedures.
  • Stocking supplies for both phlebotomy and the administrative work.
  • Ensuring secure transport of specimens to testing site.
  • Following all policies and procedures for quality assurance and training.

Eligibility

The basic academic qualification is a high school graduation diploma or equivalent. If you do not already have this diploma, check with your local education authorities to find out what you have to do to finish it. In many places, these courses can be taken part time or online with access to a teacher for support.

There are also personal attributes that are important if you are to enjoy this career:

  • Comfortable being close to people. This is definitely an up close and personal kind of job. To do your job well, you must be comfortable being near people, whether it is a squirming five year old, a shaky senior, or an obese young man who is sweating profusely. No phlebotomy training in the world can teach you how to be comfortable. Be honest with yourself.
  • Well coordinated. You need to have excellent fine motor skills to manipulate a needle as precisely as possible.
  • Detail oriented. The patient records, sample labels, and other paperwork must be accurate and complete. There is no room for error.
  • Patience. Many people are very fearful of having needles stuck in their veins. You need a high level of understanding and patience to help them overcome their nervousness. You might also need patience to actually find a vein so you can draw blood.
  • Genuine interest in people. Although you are not going to become friends with your patients and you certainly are not going to discuss their medical situation, you want to show enough interest in them to put them at ease.

The Two Types of Phlebotomy Training Available

Review the kinds of training available and decide what is best for you. Phlebotomy training is available in two kinds of setting.

  • College programs. Phlebotomy training may be available as part of a bachelor or associate degrees. Note that phlebotomy is not part of the standard curriculum for nurses although it is sometimes specially trained nurses who perform this job.
  • Vocational programs. These might be stand alone training programs offered at trade schools or career centers. Sometimes, phlebotomy is offered at the same time as the training for EKG technicians.

You can start your research online with the websites that list phlebotomy schools. Several of them will identify local schools when you submit your zip code.

You also have to give consideration to your personal situation before making a decision about the kind of program you will attend.

  • Length of time. This training can last anywhere from ten weeks for a trade school to a year when phlebotomy is part of a larger program.
  • Classroom or online. There are online options or distance education for the theoretical part of training. You still have to participate in an internship for the practical application under a supervisor.
  • Full time or part time. This might be an important factor for you because of domestic responsibilities or funding. There are options depending on the type of program diploma you want.

No matter which program you choose, you want to plan for certification so you are able to have more options to work in your chosen profession. This usually involves a written and a practical exam that give you opportunity to demonstrate your hard won knowledge and skills. Job postings often ask for certification from American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), American Medical Technologist (AMT) or National Credentialing Agency (NCA) for Laboratory Personnel. You should also check out your state’s requirements for certification. All this information can help you make the best decision possible for your phlebotomy training.