What Does a Phlebotomist Do?
If the sight of blood doesn’t make you squeamish, then a career as a phlebotomist could be for you. Phlebotomy technicians draw and prepare blood for medical tests, transfusions or donations. (Don’t let the funny name confuse you; it comes from the Greek work for vein.)
Phlebotomists collect blood through a patient’s vein (venipuncture) or through a finger prick (capillary sample). They are important members of the healthcare team. If you’ve ever had a calm, experienced phlebotomist take your blood — or the opposite — then you know what we mean. This technician is often the first or only person a patient will interact with. If a patient is anxious, the phlebotomist first has to make the person more comfortable.
If you enjoyed science classes in high school and are interested in working in a healthcare setting, this career is a good way to know if that’s a good fit for you. Plus, you can become a phlebotomist in less than a year! Keep on reading if you want to know more.
- Explain blood draw or transfusion process to patients
- Draw blood for testing or processing
- Accurately label the drawn blood
- Assist patients who experience adverse reactions
- Enter patient information into a database
- Maintain medical instruments such as needles, test tubes and vials
- Keep work areas sanitary
- Adhere to all safety protocols
How To Become a Phlebotomist: FAQs
What is required to become a phlebotomist?
Some phlebotomists enter the occupation with a high school diploma and are trained on the job, but most employers look for candidates who have completed an accredited postsecondary phlebotomy program. Educational programs are available from community colleges and technical schools and result in a phlebotomy certificate or diploma. Programs are accredited by the American Association of Allied Health Professionals (AAAHP).
Programs include hands-on experience, clinical laboratory work and instruction in anatomy, physiology and medical terminology. Phlebotomy students also receive detailed instructions on how to identify, label and track blood samples.
Once you have successfully completed a program, you’re eligible to take a national certification exam. Not all states require this step, but some employers prefer candidates who are nationally certified.
Finally, expect to keep on learning. Many phlebotomists take continuing education credits from groups such as the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians.
What other qualifications are necessary?
Proof of graduation from high school (or equivalent), immunization records and CPR certification are typically required to start a training program. Some employers also require job candidates to pass a background check.
How long does it take to become a phlebotomist?
A phlebotomy certificate usually takes less than a year to complete. There are three levels of certification: Limited Phlebotomy Technician (LPT), Certified Phlebotomy Technician I (CPT I) and Certified Phlebotomy Technician II (CPT II). National certification may require additional preparation time.
Where do phlebotomists work?
They work in hospitals, outpatient care facilities, clinics, physician’s offices and diagnostic laboratories. They also work for blood donation drives. At facilities that are open 24 hours a day, night and weekend shifts are required.
Is there a demand for this job?
Job opportunities for phlebotomists are expected to grow a remarkable 22% from 2020 to 2030. To put that in perspective, job growth for all occupations in the U.S. during that same time period is expected to increase about 8%.
What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?
A successful phlebotomist usually has these attributes:
• Good interpersonal skills to help blood donors feel comfortable
• A focused, professional attitude
• Excellent dexterity and hand-eye coordination
• Stays calm and works effectively under pressure
Physicians need blood drawn as a first step in any diagnosis. That’s why a skilled phlebotomist is so crucial to a medical team’s success. What other career can put you into such a vital position with less than a year of study?