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Phlebotomy Certification Information

By: CareerFactsheet.com- Updated: Jan. 09, 2013

Medical laboratory technologists and technicians collect samples of body fluids, tissue, and other substances in order to perform medical tests. These tests assist with diagnosing and .treating patients. They also collect samples for research and other medical purposes, such as donating blood. There are a range of specialties in the medical laboratory technology field, including phlebotomy. Phlebotomists are responsible for collecting or drawing blood from patients for testing, transfusions, donations, and research.

Prerequisites

In order to prepare for a career in phlebotomy, you should have a strong science background and a high school level education. Most education and training programs in phlebotomy and related fields require a high school diploma or equivalent (for example, GED) for admission. High school level courses in chemistry, biology, and mathematics provide solid foundations for a career in the medical laboratory sciences field. For individuals interested in changing careers and specializing in phlebotomy, formal training and education in a related medical or health care field is typically needed.

Phlebotomy Technician Certification Overview

Formal education and training in phlebotomy is typically incorporated in broader programs in the medical health care field. Phlebotomists tend to receive education and training through medical laboratory technology or medical laboratory scientist programs at a range of schools and colleges. They may also receive formal instruction through programs offered at hospitals, as well as various schools and colleges. Another popular option amongst mature students is online certification. When choosing a program in medical laboratory science or a related field, ensure that the program is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

Education and Training Programs

Phlebotomist Certificate Programs

Medical laboratory technicians typically require an associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate, while technologists often complete bachelor’s degree programs. Programs can range from two years for an associate’s degree to three or four years for a bachelor’s degree. These programs are available at many universities and hospitals, as well as trade and technical schools, junior colleges, and community colleges.

Certificate programs are generally at least one year in length and are widely available from hospitals. Programs offered in hospitals are designed for individuals with a degree in a related field, such as nursing or medical assisting, who wish to switch careers or specialize in a certain medical technology field, such as phlebotomy. Trade and technical schools, as well as community colleges, also offer certificate programs for prospective technicians.

Coursework Overview

Certificate programs tend to focus on basic theoretical and practical aspects of major laboratory disciplines, including phlebotomy. A program leading to an associate’s degree generally includes courses in general science and laboratory science. By comparison, a bachelor’s degree program provides more in-depth instruction. Courses in these programs may include chemistry, biology and microbiology, mathematics and statistics, management, education, and clinical laboratory skills.

Financial Assistance and Funding Information

Merit-based financial aid in the form of scholarships and grants are available directly from schools and colleges that deliver medical laboratory technician and technology programs. Educational institutions may also offer interest-free loans on a needs basis. Some associations, such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology, and employers, such as hospitals, may also provide scholarships to individuals enrolled in approved and accredited programs. These supports may also be available to anyone interested in retraining or specializing in phlebotomy. Needs-based financial aid is also available from federal and state governments, including Federal Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG). Loans administered by the U.S. Department of Education are also available to students in need of financial aid. Federal government financial aid is available only to students enrolled in accredited programs.

Certification and Licensing

Some states may require that medical laboratory technologists and technicians, including phlebotomists, be licensed. In order to be licensed, phlebotomists must typically be certified. Although not mandatory to work in the field, certification is often looked upon positively by prospective employers.

General certification in medical laboratory technology is available, as well as certification in a specialty such as phlebotomy. In order for an individual to maintain their certification, continuing education is needed. This ongoing education ensures that individuals maintain a certain level of proficiency or understanding and skills necessary to complete their duties safely and effectively.

Phlebotomy Certification Exams

In order to write a certifying exam, applicants are typically required to complete an accredited education program in a related field, such as medical laboratory technology or medical assisting. Tests in general medical laboratory technology will test abilities related to the safe and effective operation of the equipment necessary to collect and test samples. Questions related to patient care and laboratory management are also included.

Exams in phlebotomy test an individual’s ability to perform basic phlebotomy procedures. Questions will evaluate knowledge related to techniques in drawing blood, including the venipuncture procedure and point of care testing, as well as testing blood glucose levels and blood types. Exams will also evaluate an individual’s knowledge of how to evaluate a patient’s ability to withstand the venipuncture procedure and how to explain the procedure to patients. They will also test knowledge related to preparing specimens for testing.

Certifying Bodies

Examination and certification specifically for phlebotomists is undertaken through various associations, such as the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians and the American Society for Clinical Pathology. In addition to administering certifying exams, these professional associations also deliver continuing education programs in phlebotomy and related fields to help technicians and technologists develop their skills and knowledge.

In order to apply for certification, you must generally demonstrate proficiency in phlebotomy either through work experience or education and training. For example, the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians requires applicants to have completed a  full year as a part-time phlebotomist or six months as a full-time phlebotomist. Alternatively, a letter may be obtained from a health care supervision that attests to your role in regularly obtaining blood samples as part of your work. You can also complete an accredited phlebotomy training program in order to sit the exam. Applicants for certification must also provide evidence that they have successfully completed at least 100 venipunctures and five skin punctures.

Certification for general medical laboratory technology, as well as phlebotomy may also be completed through other medical laboratory and health care associations. For example, certification is available through American Medical Technologists, the American Association of Bioanalysts, and the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel.

Licensing

Certain jurisdictions may require phlebotomists to be licensed in order to work legally. Licensing is typically administered at the state level. In order to apply to be recognized as a licensed phlebotomist, individuals are generally required to provide verification of training and experience, as well as a certificate or diploma to demonstrate he or she has completed a related training or education program.  States may also set minimum requirement for education and training, and establish a minimum number of successful skin punctures or venipunctures to be completed by the applicant before being licensed.

Useful Links

  • American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians: http://www.aspt.org/
  • American Society for Clinical Pathology :http:// www.ascp.org/
  • American Medical Technologists : http://www.amt1.org/
  • American Association of Bioanalysts: http://www.aab.org/
  • National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences : http://www.naacls.org/
  • US Bureau of Labor Statistics
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