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Phlebotomy Training Requirements

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

Medical laboratory technologists and technicians collect samples and perform tests in order to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances. They may also be known as medical laboratory scientists. Medical laboratory technicians tend to work under the supervision of a medical laboratory technologist or a laboratory manager. Among the many specialties for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is phlebotomy.

Phlebotomists are found in health care and medical facilities across the country, from hospitals to medical clinics and from blood banks to research facilities in universities. They play an important role in patient care, as well as research. As just one of the potential careers in medical laboratory technology, the skills learned from phlebotomy and related occupations allow individuals to move relatively easily to different specialties and positions in the field.

Many phlebotomists have certain characteristics that help them be successful in their jobs. As with other medical laboratory technologists and technicians, phlebotomists should be compassionate and empathetic. These traits are important when performing challenging tasks and working with patients who may be in pain or distress. Phlebotomists must also be detail oriented to ensure procedures are carried out properly and safely. In addition, they should have good dexterity to work with laboratory instruments, such as needles. Good stamina is also an asset since phlebotomists typically work on their feed for long periods, especially when collecting samples.

Education & Training Requirements

Training and education programs in phlebotomy are offered by a variety of educational institutions, including technical and trade schools, community colleges, universities, and hospitals, as well as through online and distance education. Programs can vary from a few months to one year in duration for a certificate program, and from two to four years for a degree program. Medical professionals can become trained in phlebotomy as part of related field, such as medical laboratory technology or technician program, or by completing a dedicated program in phlebotomy.

Education Programs in a Related Field

Training for Phlebotomists Technician Specialists

One path to becoming a phlebotomist is with education in a related field. Many professionals, technicians, and technologists in the medical and health care field are trained in phlebotomy. They include physicians, nurses, medical assistants, medical laboratory technicians and technologists, paramedics, and patient care assistants. Although trained for these careers, some individuals may chose to specialize in phlebotomy, particularly individuals who received education and training as medical or patient care assistants and medical laboratory technicians or technologists.

To receive training in medical assisting or medical laboratory technology, completion of a related program can lead to a diploma, certificate, or degree. Programs in these areas are offered at trade and technical schools, community colleges, junior colleges, and universities.  While certificate programs can be up to a year in duration, an associate’s degree involves the completion of a two year program and a bachelor’s degree program lasts at least three years.

The primary difference between a certificate and degree program is the level of instruction given. While certificate programs provide students with the basic theoretical and practice knowledge and skills necessary for entry-level technician positions, degree programs provide more in-depth instruction. Generally, degree programs include courses in sciences, including biology and chemistry. They also feature courses in management, patient care, mathematics, and clinical laboratory skills.

Typically, phlebotomists are classified as medical laboratory technology technicians. Most technicians complete education programs in medical laboratory technology that lead to a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree. When supervising other technicians and performing certain tests on samples, phlebotomists are classified as technologists. Technologists often complete a bachelor’s degree program in medical laboratory technology or a related field, such as medical assisting.

Training in Phlebotomy

Medical laboratory technicians, medical assistants, and other related technicians and professionals can receive on-the-job training to become a phlebotomist. This training often involves working in a hospital, clinic, research facility, laboratory, or other medical facility under the supervision of an experienced technician, technologist, supervisor, or laboratory manager.

Through work experience, clinical or medical laboratory technicians perform various procedures to draw blood. These procedures include venipunctures to draw blood from a patient or a blood donor’s vein and skin or dermal punctures for small blood samples to be tested. This work experience allows technicians to perfect their skills to safely draw blood with minimal distress to the patient. It also offers an opportunity for technicians to learn the skills necessary to successfully work in a laboratory or medical facility environment.

As a technician gains more experience in drawing blood, they can specialize in phlebotomy. This can include pursuing formal education and training or certification in phlebotomy.

Education in Phlebotomy

In addition to being a component of other medical and health care education and training programs, courses are available specifically in phlebotomy. These courses can be completed as initial education for entry-level positions or as part of an individual’s professional development in order to specialize in phlebotomy.

Certificate programs in phlebotomy last between six months to at least one year in length. These programs are offered in hospitals, as well as trade and technical schools, community colleges, and junior colleges. Minimum entry requirements are typically at least a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as some background in science and mathematics.

Many technicians who are currently working in the medical laboratory technology field and wish to specialize in phlebotomy can complete their training at the hospital they are employed. Certificate programs in hospitals are typically one year in duration and may allow participants to continue working in their current position. In other cases, technicians can pursue their training at a school or college, or through a professional association such as the American Society of Clinical Pathologists.

Certification and Licensing

Once a technician completes an education program in phlebotomy or obtained some work experience in drawing blood, they may become certified in phlebotomy. Certification demonstrates to employers that a technician is dedicated to their work. It also shows that a technician has obtained a certain level of proficiency in the skills and knowledge necessary to be a successful phlebotomist. Certification can lead to higher wages and improved employability as prospective employees tend to seek individuals with higher qualifications.

Certification can be completed by either passing an exam in medical laboratory technology or phlebotomy. Additional certifying exams are available for specialities within the phlebotomy field, such as blood donor phlebotomy. In order to write a certifying exam, applicants are typically required to complete an accredited education program in a related field and/or achieve a certain level of work experience as demonstrated by the number of hours worked or number of procedures completed.

Some states require certification to legally work in the state. In order to apply to be recognized as a licensed phlebotomist, individuals are generally required to provide proof of certification and/or proof of completion of a training or education program in a related field. They may also be asked to provide evidence of their experience in phlebotomy, including documentation related to the number of hours worked in phlebotomy and/or successful skin punctures or venipunctures performed.

Career Outlook

As the nation’s population ages, employment opportunities in medical laboratory technology, including phlebotomy, will continue to be in demand. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians will be needed to collect samples from patients, as well as use and maintain equipment necessary for diagnosis and treatment of patients.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment for medical laboratory technologists is expected to grow by 11 percent between 2010 and 2020. This level of growth is comparable to the average growth for all occupations in the United States. Similarly, employment for medical laboratory technicians is estimated to grow by 15 percent by 2020, which is also comparable to the national average for other occupations.

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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