Blood, the word synonymous with heart and life; the importance of this element in healthcare is indispensable, and so is the relevance of a skilled phlebotomist. The thriving healthcare industry is projected to launch itself into a bright future, carrying alongside all the allied healthcare services.
As estimated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of Phlebotomists will grow by 25% between 2014 and 2024.
Certified phlebotomy technicians can anticipate better job prospects as a steady rise in the number of people opting for health insurance is being noticed. This will certainly have an obvious positive impact on blood-work-related services.
Role of a Phlebotomy Technician
A phlebotomy technician performs venipuncture, the process of drawing blood from a patient’s vein to collect blood specimens for laboratory testing or merely collecting blood from donors. Phlebotomists are important members of clinical laboratories and are employed at a number of healthcare units like nursing homes, research organizations, hospitals, independent laboratories and clinics, and physicians’ offices.
Regular operations performed by a phlebotomy technician are as listed below:
- Perform venipuncture on patients and blood donors
- Verify patient’s identity
- Ensure accurate labeling of blood samples
- Take and record blood pressure, pulse, and respiration readings
- Sterilize and clean equipments needed during venipuncture
- Update patient records
- Send collected blood sample for lab testing
Education and Training
Recognized institutions provide courses on phlebotomy to educate candidates on the following subjects, procedures, and practices:
- Phlebotomy laboratory skills
- First aid
- Phlebotomy department management
- Phlebotomy equipments
- Health law procedures
- Legal issues pertaining to medicine
- Blood and cell composition
- Blood sampling procedures
In addition to the above, practical training on the below-mentioned blood-drawing procedures is also rendered to the trainees:
- Butterfly technique used for children and aged patients with small veins
- Healstick technique used for newborns
- Fingerstick technique used for individuals with damaged veins
The time taken to complete phlebotomy training is usually less than a year, facilitating aspirants to quickly progress towards certification and consequent employment opportunities. Phlebotomy training is a good start for individuals aspiring for a career in laboratory technology. Several phlebotomists go on to eventually become laboratory specialists and technologists.
Certification allows for easy validation of knowledge and skills and is highly preferred by employers, reducing their effort on verifying the qualifications of prospective employees.
Phlebotomy Technician Certification can be availed from the following certifying bodies:
American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) – Candidates who have no past experience are considered eligible for phlebotomy certification by ASCP if they meet the following requirements:
- Completion of high school graduation or an equivalent degree
- Completion of 40-hour classroom and 120-hour hands-on phlebotomy training
- Successful unaided collection of 100 blood samples
ASCP necessitates the training to include laboratory operations, specimen collection, processing and handling, physiology, and anatomy lessons.
The American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians (ASPT) – Phlebotomy technicians with either one full year of part-time employment or six months of full-time employment as phlebotomists are considered eligible for phlebotomy certification by the ASPT.
Candidates with no experience must satisfy the following mandatory requirements for certification:
- Completion of phlebotomy training from an accredited institute
- Completion of 100 documented venipunctures
- Completion of 5 successful skin punctures
- Current membership with the ASPT
National Phlebotomy Association (NPA) – Unless a candidate has at least one year of work experience as a phlebotomist, he/she must attend phlebotomy training to qualify for certification granted by the NPA.
The training program attended must include:
- Venipuncture techniques
- Clinical internship
- 160-hour classroom training, apart from the clinical internship
Choosing the Right Certification
Candidates can choose from among the aforementioned certifications by considering the following:
- Different states approve different certifications. Candidates must check with the state board for an updated list of respective approved certifications.
- Certain employers prefer one certification over another. Should a candidate already have a list of preferred employers or be keen on working with any specific employer, then it would be advisable to check for specific certification(s) approved by that particular employer.
- It is best to opt for a certification provided by nationally-recognized institutions.
Getting a vein punctured for collecting blood samples can be a stressful process for patients and donors. A phlebotomist has to be adept at the job and be able perform venipuncture without causing much discomfort to them. Venipuncture is performed not just for diagnosing diseases, but also for processes catering to preventive healthcare and treatment of lifestyle diseases.
Owing to federal health insurance reforms, applications for health insurance are expected to be on the rise. Applying for health insurance necessitates individuals to undergo blood tests for submission of required reports. The aforementioned developments are certain to increase the demand for healthcare professionals including qualified and skilled phlebotomists.