If you’ve ever asked yourself, “what is a phlebotomist?” we have the answers.
The simple answer is that a phlebotomist is a certified professional who draws blood samples from patients to test them for various illnesses or health conditions. This process is done by making a puncture in the vein using a cannula, typically in the arm.
But if you’re interested in the career for yourself, you’ll want a lot more information about precisely what is a phlebotomist, what they do, and how you can get started on this career path.
What Does a Phlebotomist Do?
Almost everyone can remember a time they went to the doctor for a check-up or to help diagnose a medical problem and had to get their blood drawn. Maybe you’ve donated blood either at the hospital or a local blood drive. You most likely had it done by a phlebotomist in most of these situations.
In addition to these examples, there are more reasons for getting your blood drawn by a phlebotomist such as:
- Running tests
- Carrying out transfusions
- Conducting research
- Completing medical procedures
- Collecting a blood donation
The primary duty of a phlebotomist is to draw blood, but they are responsible for several other related tasks as well. These include:
- Interpreting test results
- Explaining procedures to patients and prepping them
- Practicing required forms of asepsis
- Restoring homeostasis of the puncture site
- Preparing sample tubes with printed labels
- Delivering specimens to the laboratory
- Handling patient and billing information
Where Can a Phlebotomist be Found?
Now that you better understand what a phlebotomist is and does, you can dive deeper into what life looks like for someone in this role. You’ll want to know where they work since a work environment can make or break a job for many people. Phlebotomists carry out the same critical responsibilities with some variations, but why they carry out these duties and who they work with will be the most significant difference.
You can find a phlebotomist working in a variety of environments, including:
- Blood donation centers
- Doctor’s offices
- Diagnostic labs
- Nursing care facilities
- Home health services
- Outpatient care centers
Depending on the setting, the pace of work may be more or less intense. It’s also essential to find a setting that’s satisfying to you. For example, helping patients in home health may fulfill you, knowing that you’re helping a patient stay in their own home. On the other hand, working in a hospital may provide more day-to-day excitement.
In addition to working in different healthcare and lab settings, they can also work with various people depending on the setting. Some of the people a phlebotomist will work with include:
- Lab technicians
Sounds interesting to you? Then this could be the perfect career for your future.
How to Become a Phlebotomist
Becoming a phlebotomist requires learning about more than blood and safety procedures. A phlebotomist must also become familiar with medical law and ethics to guarantee they follow safe and ethical practices on the job.
To be a phlebotomist, you may need to enroll in a training program at an accredited school. Seeking an accredited school is important because you know you’re getting a high quality education. Once you get started, your diploma can typically be completed in less than a year.
Some schools have internships built into the program curriculum, so you get real-world experience in addition to getting classroom training. These internships will allow you to practice your skills in a healthcare setting with professional supervision to ensure you are ready to move into the career field.
Before you can start your internship, you may be required to have a physical and update your immunization records. Some facilities may also require that you undergo a criminal background check.
When searching for the right school, you want to look at training programs that will prepare you for the certification requirements within your state and those that offer career services so that can you have a better chance of getting a job after receiving your diploma. Career services will help you prepare for interviews with potential employers and guide you through the transition from training to a professional environment.
Required Certifications to Become a Phlebotomy Technician
Once you have obtained your phlebotomy technician diploma, you’re not done yet. From here, you need to become certified. At Great Lakes, students enrolled in our Medical Assistant program can obtain certification from the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) by taking the Certified Phlebotomy Technician exam. It’s also recommended you become CPR certified.
While you’re completing your program and certifications, decide if there are enough job opportunities where you are currently living or if it’s in your best interest to relocate in search of better career prospects. Fortunately, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that opportunities in this field are expected to grow 22% by 2030, which means there will be approximately 19,500 new phlebotomy technician jobs available throughout the country.
Start Your Journey to Become a Phlebotomy Technician
Phlebotomy is one of the many essential healthcare fields that keeps people healthy. This might be the right job for you if you’re interested in a career that will allow you to help people. Training programs take less than a year to complete, and there’s a boost in job opportunities across the country.
The Medical Assistant program at Great Lakes is an excellent pathway to becoming a phlebotomy technician. If this is a career you find yourself interested in, visit our Medical Assistant course page and fill out the form to hear from someone in our Admissions Department.