Phlebotomist Job Description: All You Need to Know

Phlebotomists are involved in making surgical perforations and drawing blood from patients that is used for lab tests or for donations. Starting off a career in phlebotomy is rewarding, but you need to know the phlebotomist job description. You might be interested in becoming a phlebotomist, but if you have no idea where to start it's hard to know if it might be a career for you. So what does a phlebotomist job entail? This article highlights the phlebotomist job description, the requirements for staring, the job outlook, and salary information.

What Is a Phlebotomist and What Do They Do?

vaccination medical

Image Source: Pixabay

Collecting Blood

To collect blood from an arm vein, the phlebotomist should first apply a tourniquet to the upper arm that slows blood flow. The phlebotomist then applies an alcohol swab to disinfect a small area near the the elbow. A vein is located and the phlebotomist inserts a needle through skin puncture by pricking a finger to test a patient’s blood sugar and to determine the blood type.


Working Conditions and Environment

Phlebotomists work in hospitals, clinical laboratories, community health centers, doctor’s offices, and blood donation centers, among other healthcare facilities. They are typically supervised by clinical laboratory technologist or any other medical professional. Phlebotomists must be careful and accurate. In a busy facility, they may take dozens of blood samples in a typical shift.

They must also be able to work under pressure without compromising safety and accuracy. Patients may be afraid of needles and part of the phlebotomist job description is putting the patient at ease. Phlebotomists should be able to handle emotional, difficult, and angry patients.

Phlebotomist Job Description: Duties and Responsibilities

doctor blood

Image Source: Pixabay

A phlebotomist job description typically entails the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Keeping work areas clean and sanitary
  • Entering patient information into a database
  • Drawing blood from patients and blood donors
  • Labeling the drawn blood for testing or processing
  • Talking with patients and donors to help them feel less nervous
  • Assembling and maintaining medical instruments such as test tubes, needles, and blood vials
  • Verifying of a patient's or donor's identity to safeguard proper labeling of the blood

Phlebotomist Job Description: Qualities

  • Physical stamina to stay on your feet for long periods
  • Hand-eye coordination for effective blood draws
  • Dexterity to use equipment properly
  • Detail-oriented outlook for accuracy in labeling, tracking, and recording information
  • Compassion to soothe patients and clients

Why Become a Phlebotomist?

You should pursue a career as a phlebotomist since it is a rewarding and the job outlook is bright. Phlebotomy services are on high demand. Blood analysis remains an essential function is medical laboratories and hospitals, which implies that the demand for phlebotomists will remain high. Job prospects are anticipated to be best for phlebotomists who received certification from reputable organizations.

Average  of a Phlebotomist and Job Outlook

doctor

Image Source: Pixabay

You can make a living as a phlebotomist. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), phlebotomists earn an average annual wage of about $32,000. The lowest paid 10% earn approximately $23,000, while the highest paid 10% earn $46,000. However, the industry in which you are employed also determines your salary. Phlebotomist job descriptions usually specify the salary.

The BLS reported that the top-paying industries for phlebotomists are:

  • Outpatient care centers: $34,990
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories: $34,420
  • All other ambulatory healthcare services: 31,520
  • Offices of physicians: 31,520
  • Hospitals; state, local, and private: 31,300

Job Outlook

Phlebotomists hold approximately 122,700 jobs across the country. The largest employers in the phlebotomy career are:

  • Hospitals; state, local, and private: 37%
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories:  32%
  • All other ambulatory healthcare services: 15%
  • Offices of physicians: 8%
  • Outpatient care centers: 2%

When you pursue a career as a phlebotomist, there is a lot of potential for growth. According to the BLS, employment of phlebotomists is anticipated to grow by 24% up to 2026, which is faster than most occupations.

Job Prospects

laboratory medical

Image Source: Pixabay

Job prospects are best for phlebotomists who have received certification from one of the various reputable organizations. There were 122,700 phlebotomists employed in 2016. The projected employment in 2026 will be 152,600, which represents a 24% change. This means that 30,000 phlebotomists are needed by 2026. States with the highest level of phlebotomists include California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Requirements for Becoming a Phlebotomist

Phlebotomist job descriptions usually require the applicant to have a basic certification. To pursue a career as a phlebotomist and get certified, you need a post-secondary non-degree award from a phlebotomy program. These programs are available in community colleges, technical schools, and vocational schools.

The course take less than a year to complete and leads to certification. Instructors ensure that the students learn a variety of blood drawing techniques, basic anatomy and physiology, and safety standards. The content of the courses includes:

  • Professionalism
  • Finger and heel sticks
  • HIPAA and patient's rights
  • Medical laboratory terminology
  • Venipuncture with vacutainers, butterflies, and syringes
  • Blood and blood components
  • Universal precautions and safety
  • Test tube uses
  • Special procedures like understanding bleeding times, blood cultures, and glucose tolerance testing

However, some phlebotomists enter the profession with a high school diploma and are trained to be phlebotomists on the job. No matter the education level, phlebotomists usually receive specific instructions on how to identify, label, and track blood samples.

Associate Degree

While it is not mandatory for the phlebotomist certification, earning an associate degree provides you with a great deal of practical and specific knowledge about the profession. However, if you have a four-year degree, it is not worthwhile returning to school for the two-year associate degree. To enroll in an associate degree in phlebotomy, you must be 18 years or older, have a high school diploma or GED, and have a high English proficiency.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registration for Phlebotomists

certification credential

Image Source: Pixabay

Almost all employers specify in the phlebotomist job description you need to have earned professional certification. There are a variety of agencies that offer phlebotomy certification and each has its own requirements. In addition, the phlebotomy certification you will earn varies because each organization gives their certificate a different name. However, all the certifications offered to suffice to earn you a phlebotomist job.

Phlebotomy Certification Bodies

  • The National Healthcareer Association (NHA), which gives the Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) certificate
  • The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), which gives the National Certified Phlebotomy Technician (NCPT) certificate
  • The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), which gives the Phlebotomy Technician (PBT) certificate
  • The American Medical Technologists (AMT), which gives the Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT) certificate
  • The American Certification Agency (ACA), which gives the Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) certificate

Even though the certifying bodies provide a similar product, the requirements differ. The certificate requirements for each are provided on their respective websites. For example, NHA certificate applicants should attend a phlebotomy training program that entails performing 10 capillary sticks and 30 venipunctures on patients. ASCP, however, does not need the completion of a training program as long as you have been trained as a phlebotomist or worked full-time in an accredited lab.

Renewal of Phlebotomy Certification

Each certification body requires certified phlebotomists to renew their certificates after a certain period. The period varies by the certifying body. Some may need annual renewal while others require bi-annual renewal. Each agency provides such information. If you fail to renew, you may incur extra costs to certify again. Some agencies may require you to retake the examination if you forget to renew your certification.

Conclusion

doctor looking and checking

Image Source: Unsplash

Phlebotomist job descriptions usually provide the basic requirements that the applicant should meet, including qualities and certification demands. They also provide you with salary information. The average annual wage is about $32,000. The lowest paid 10% earn approximately $23,000, while the highest paid 10% earn $46,000. To get certified, you need a post-secondary non-degree award from a phlebotomy program.

To become a successful phlebotomist, always ensure that all equipment used in drawing blood is sanitized. Blood should be accurately labeled, stored properly, and carefully transported. Contamination or misidentification of blood samples can lead to serious consequences as medical practitioners rely on the blood test results to diagnose patients and monitor the treatment process.

The phlebotomist should observe strict safety protocols to avoid direct contact with the blood. Many diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis, can be transmitted via blood contact. A slight distraction can lead to a “needlestick” injury and an infection. Job prospects are anticipated to be best for phlebotomists who received certification from organizations.

Venipuncture Definition

The commonly accepted venipuncture definition is that it is a procedure for enabling intravenous access for blood sampling or intravenous therapy. The analysis of blood is one of the most vital diagnostic tools available within healthcare. The data obtained from this procedure is highly dependable for interpretation of innumerable clinical signs and symptoms. It is one of most routinely performed procedures, through which diseases can be analyzed under a microscope. This helps in improving health and longevity by acting as a preventative measure.

Venipuncture Definition

syringe

image source:pexels

In venipuncture, the vein is punctured to draw a sample of blood. The most common area for drawing blood is the superficial vein of your forearm. However, phlebotomists or medical practitioners can draw blood from other places if needed. This procedure is performed by medical laboratory scientists, phlebotomists, paramedics, dialysis technicians, medical practitioners and other nursing staff in healthcare. Medical practitioners need to follow the procedures and steps as per the venipuncture definition.

Common Sites of Drawing Blood

venipuncture

image source:pexels

The most common venipuncture site is at the bend of the elbow, or the Antecubital Fossa. The Median Cubital Vein is close to the surface positioned within the Cubital Fossa. It is an ideal place for the purpose of venipuncture as there are no large nerves nearby. Other veins in this area include the Cephalic Vein and Basilic Vein.

In some cases, a medical practitioner or phlebotomist might choose another site for drawing blood. This is usually done when the technician is not comfortable with the three veins present in the bend of your elbow. Your healthcare professional might also choose another vein if the blood is not flowing properly through the Antecubital Fossa area. Other common sites include the dorsal vein in the hand or any vein in your feet. However, the veins in the feet are chosen only as a last resort.

Different Types of Venipuncture

Venipuncture definition states it is the process of getting intravenous access to draw blood. Hence, venipuncture also includes the process of starting an intravenous (IV) line. The venipuncture procedure is also used for administering medication, nutritional therapies, and chemotherapy.

Procedure

Venipuncture requires detailed knowledge and skills in order to be performed successfully and painlessly. It is a complex function that needs specific equipment, care, and caution.

Equipment Required

syringe

image source: pixabay

The equipment used varies with the type and purpose of venipuncture performed. However, some of the most commonly used items for this procedure are:

  •     Surgical Gloves
  •     Wipes/Swabs
  •     Tourniquet
  •     Collection tubes
  •     Needles
  •     Bandages
  •     Disposal Unit
  •     Gauze

Prepping for a Successful Venipuncture

surgery

image source: Pixabay

Step 1: Assemble Equipment

The medical professional should assemble all the equipment neatly on a tray. Make sure that the blood sample goes in for correct testing.

STEP 2: PATIENT PREPPING

In this step, a healthcare professional will make sure that the patient is comfortable and calm. There are certain guidelines that need to be followed when you meet the patient. The phlebotomist will ask the name and identity of the patient clearly and also explain the purpose for venipuncture to the patient. Allergies of any kind should be identified and labeled properly.  Due precautions need to be taken in case the patient suffers from any sort of allergies. Other information such as complications during a prior venipuncture, dietary habits, fasting restrictions, and current medical treatment are also obtained.

STEP 3: VEIN DETECTION

The patient’s arm is extended and placed on a table or any flat surface to perform the procedure only after seeking verbal consent. The healthcare professional will probe gently in the area inside of the elbow to search for a vein. There is a maximum risk when using the Basilic vein, as doing so increases the risk of damaging an artery or a nerve.

The Basilic vein is also the most painful to draw from of the three major veins within the Cubital Fossa. The Median Cubital Vein is the ideal vein to draw blood from as it is good-sized and does not have any close proximity to other arteries and nerves. A tourniquet is tied right above the vein site at a distance of 3–4 inches. This makes the vein pop up and become more visible.

STEP 4: HAND PREPPING

While the tourniquet does its job, the healthcare professional preps his/ her hands. They may either go and wash before donning surgical gloves or simply cleanse with an alcohol rub. This step can also be performed before tying the tourniquet. However, it is critical that a fresh pair of surgical gloves be used every time to prevent contamination and an infection.

STEP 5: SITE DISINFECTION

The venipuncture area needs to be disinfected to prevent contamination. Alcohol is the best solution for disinfecting as it does not affect lab results as compared to povidone iodine. A 70% alcohol swab should be used to cleanse the site, wiped in a circular motion. The cleansing begins from the exact venipuncture point and moves outwards to at least 2–3 cm.

Procedure to Draw Blood

injecting medical shot

Image Source: Pixabay

Venipuncture can be performed only after the site has been prepped. The medical practitioner will place a thumb under the vein to anchor it. Care is maintained to prevent touching the exact site of venipuncture. The patient is requested to curl their fingers into a tight ball shape of the fist. The correct way to insert a needle into the vein lumen is to do so quickly and at an angle between 15 to 30 degrees by stretching the skin taut. Healthcare professionals are instructed not to cause excessive trauma by probing. The tourniquet is released once blood is collected. If multiple tubes are being collected, then the tourniquet is released before filling the last tube. It is critically necessary to release the tourniquet before removing the needle.

The needle should be removed in a single swift motion to prevent additional pain. Pressure with gauze is applied as soon as the needle is withdrawn to prevent any blood loss and hematoma. All tubes should be properly labeled and sent to the laboratory for testing. Any specific laboratory requirements are completed at this time. For instance, some laboratories require the test tube to be inverted multiple times.

A very important step in venipuncture is the destruction of needles and other items that touched blood. Needles are preferably discarded in a "Sharps" container while items that did not touch blood are thrown with general waste. The venipuncture site is inspected to check for bleeding or any other complications.

Precautions

health medicine

Image Source: Pixabay

There are some areas that should not be chosen as a venipuncture site. These include areas where there are extensive scars or burn injuries. The arm on the side where a mastectomy has been performed and edematous extremities should also be avoided. Accumulated tissue fluids in edematous extremities can alter test results.

It is not advisable to perform a venipuncture on the arm where there is already an IV. The other arm should be used for drawing blood in such a situation. However, if there is no other way, then the IV should be turned off for at least 2 minutes and another vein used for drawing blood. An existing IV line might make it easier to draw blood as compared to venipuncture. However, the IV line should first be flushed thoroughly. Blood should be drawn slowly to avoid hemolysis. Blood should also not be drawn from the arm containing a cannula, heparin lock or fistula.

Purpose

Venipuncture definition states a variety of benefits of this procedure. It is among the most routinely performed invasive procedures. It is also among the most important diagnostic tools available to healthcare professionals. Here are the common uses of venipuncture.

Diagnostics

The first step to identifying any illness or sickness is to study a patient’s blood sample under the microscope. As per venipuncture definition, blood is obtained from the veins for laboratory testing to check for pathogens and other undesirables.

Monitoring

There area number of blood components that can cause severe damage to the body if present in inadequate or excess quantities. Real-time monitoring of blood components can be carried out by drawing blood and testing it.

Administration

Venipuncture definition states that it can be used to administer intravenous therapies. This includes administering treatments such as chemotherapy and medications. It can also be used to provide nutrition to the body through intravenous therapies.

Removal

The major purpose of this procedure as per the venipuncture definition is to take a blood sample from the body. It can either be done for testing purposes or to regulate blood levels in the body. For instance, red blood cells require being removed when iron and erythrocytes are in excess.

Blood Storage

Venipuncture is useful in collecting blood to be used later. For instance, blood transfusion begins with the procedure of collecting blood through a venipuncture.

Conclusion

vaccination set

Image Source: Pixabay

Venipuncture definition states it is the procedure of collecting blood by getting intravenous access. There are several factors that need to be taken into consideration while taking blood. Patient consideration is of primary importance. Venipuncture procedure requires specific equipment, knowledge, and skill to be performed successfully. Venipuncture can facilitate holistic and timely treatment.

CEUs | Important for Phlebotomists and Patients

Phlebotomists are responsible for drawing blood from patients that is then later used to run a host of laboratory tests. These tests are used to determine any health issues the patient may have, gauge the condition of a known issue and help physicians devise a course of action in the best interest of the patient. Starting off a career in phlebotomy is rewarding, but it’s not enough to train just to get the job. You must also complete Continuing Education Units (CEUs), essential for keeping your position or advancing your career within the medical field.

So what are CEUs? This article highlights what they are, their importance as they relate to those working in phlebotomy jobs, how to partake in them and their benefits.

What Are CEUS?

CEUs refer to units of credit that equal a specific number of participation hours in an accredited program specifically designed to keep professionals up to date on new technology and techniques and freshened up on old standards of practice. They are applicable for professionals, including doctors, engineers, lawyers, phlebotomists, pest control applicators and many, many others. If you are a professional, then it could be paramount that you undertake a specified number of CEUs annually to keep your practice, licenses or certificates current. You should note that the annual number of CEU credits varies by profession and state, so be sure to do your research before registering to make sure you will receive enough that you clear the requirements.

Standardization

IACET logo

In 1968, the Department of Education commissioned a task force on continuing education and training, which later became the International Association for Continuing Education and Training. The IACET was responsible for developing CEUs and coming up with guidelines for continued education in certain professional fields until 2006, when the IACET became the ANSI Standard Developing Organization (SDO).

ANSI is the United States’ representative of the International Organization for Standardization, and it is tasked with strengthening the marketplace by ensuring health and safety standards are met for the benefit of consumers and to protect the environment.

IACET is the caretaker of CEUs and communicates standards that organizations should adopt in administering and creating programs that provide professionals with CEU opportunities. IACET has set the measure of one Continuing Education Unit to be 10 hours of participation in an organized CEU course of qualified instruction led by approved directors. CEU credits provide records of people who have completed at least one non-credit educational experience.

Who Awards CEUs?

CEU credits are awarded by organizations, companies, and educational institutions willing to meet IACET/ANSI standards established for specific industries.

Professional Requirements

Some professions demand the completion of a specific number of CEUs annually to ensure that working practitioners who come into contact with individuals or whose actions affect people and the environment are up-to-date with current practices.

Proof that you, as a professional, have completed the required number of CEU credits required is required for renewal or your license or certification. However, the number of CEU credits that you should complete to stay viable in your occupation vary by state and industry.

Importance of CEUs for Phlebotomists

phlebotomist

CEUs are vital for phlebotomists since they frequently come into contact with patients and need to practice safe methods to prevent infections with the patient and false lab results due to contaminated specimens. If you are a phlebotomist, then CEUs give you an opportunity to learn, network and meet other phlebotomists.

Once you have earned CEUs, you can renew your license and ensure you can continue to practice with no obstacles and the confidence that you are keeping yourself up on the necessary practices to keep patients safe. In addition, you will enjoy job opportunities, increased remuneration and more knowledge about your profession as it develops over time. These are the reasons why your education should never end.

Phlebotomists have the added advantage of seeing and knowing a lot regarding a clinic or hospital setting. Thy work with different people, including patients, nurses, laboratory technicians, doctors and specialists. By pursuing CEU credits, they can better this knowledge and gain more experience about interacting with people in their clinical environment. They also get to experience a little of laboratory culture, know how to use equipment safely and use medical terminologies among other aspects.

CEU credits can help phlebotomists decide what to pursue in advancing their careers, particularly when they have an interest in a certain field. By attending CEUs, they will obtain the much-needed inspiration to move ahead with their goals in the medical field. This implies they will have an opportunity to advance their careers. If they want to move up to a managerial position or even become a physician someday, they will need CEUs so it is great to get familiar with the process.

The CEU credits for phlebotomists typically depend on the individual’s goals. Whether you want to grow your career, salary or even pursue a different position in the medical field, CEUs are vital to start with in the process. The only dedication and input you need is time and money, and your career can be as advanced as you would like it to be.

How to Partake in Continuing Education

Continuing Education medical school

We recommend that you check with your initial school or program where you first trained as a phlebotomist to see if it also offers CEU programs and when. That way, when you go to renew your license/certification you will already know about the process. There is a variety of CEU credits available that can offer you various areas of expertise.

For instance, advanced phlebotomy is becoming a more popular option for CEU education among phlebotomists. It is essential as it incorporates different techniques when it comes to drawing blood. Besides, you will focus on more advanced laboratory studies, or some specific medical areas, including geriatrics or trauma. Therefore, if you are a phlebotomist and you are looking for an area of specialization, you should consider enrolling in a CEU program to get you started.

You should note that most of the continuing education courses are much shorter than the initial training. Sometimes, they may take only three days, but this depends on the training offered. Additional certifications, as you might expect, may take a little longer.  

Benefits of Earning CEU Credits

benefits of ceu

There are plenty of reasons as to why you need to continue your education. It is not only a requirement, but it can also help you in a variety of ways. For instance, one can get a promotion in your job they desire without putting an extra effort. CEUs will offer you an opportunity to change your career.

Career Advancement

Some individuals are happy to take an eight-week course and become a phlebotomist technician and enjoy this career for the rest of their lives. While it is rewarding, you might be interested in career advancements. Most of the time you will work with various people, drawing blood on a daily basis, transferring it to the lab, and conduct basic lab procedures. However, if you take continued education, there is an opportunity for growth, including taking on a management role or becoming a specialist.

Specialists focus on one specific area, either patient services or collections. Either way, if you want a managerial position or want to become a specialist, additional certifications are required. It may take years of experience. These positions have more responsibilities, but also come with better pay.

Change in Career

 phlebotomist career

Many people use CEUs as an opportunity to start off a career in the medical field. Some careers you could shift to as a phlebotomist include medical lab technicians and nursing. For instance, if you want to obtain a nursing degree as you work as a phlebotomist, you can either take online courses or hybrid avenues. You will also need to gain a diploma from a nursing program, which may take two or four years.

Medical lab technician career is a perfect fit for phlebotomists who might want to pursue a CEU. This is because you already have experience working in a laboratory. In addition, becoming an MLT can also be essential since you will improve your salary and responsibility. You start off with an MLT training and can later get an associate degree. While MLT education is more expensive compared to phlebotomy, you will have an opportunity to advance your career.

Some doctors even start off as phlebotomist technicians, but the education requirements are far greater compared to laboratory technicians or nurses. Some hospitals can help you pay for your continuing education if you stay on board with them. Therefore, we recommend that you check with your employer to see if they offer any help to continue your education.

Conclusion

CEUs are conducted and provided by organizations, companies and educational institutions that are willing to meet IACET/ANSI standards established for specific industries. The number of credits that you will need depends on which state or industry you are in. CEUs are essential for phlebotomists to renew their credentials and keep up with the latest industry and technology trends. In addition, you will enjoy advancements in job opportunities, increased compensation and more knowledge about your field. By completing CEUs, you will have an opportunity for growth, including taking on a management role or becoming a specialist. Your destiny depends on your focus and willingness to work. The CEUs will help you get there.