Phlebotomist Job Description: All You Need to Know

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Author: Emma Campbell

I am a director at the Phlebotomy Training Institute