Phlebotomy – All You Need To Know

Table of Contents

  1. Phlebotomy – What is it?
  2. Phlebotomy – History
  3. Phlebotomy Today
  4. Who is a Phlebotomist?
  5. How to become a Phlebotomist?
  6. Recommended Schools and Universities
  7. Recommended Books
  8. Career in Phlebotomy
  9. Phlebotomy – FAQ
  10. Phlebotomy – Some “How To” Questions Answered
  11. Resources and Links

Phlebotomy – What is it?

Phlebotomy is the task of drawing blood for the purpose of blood diagnosis and analysis as well as in the curing of certain diseases. Blood is usually drawn from veins although arteries and capillaries are also used sometime. Blood diagnosis is an important tool in diagnosing multiple diseases and there are millions who give blood for this purpose.

Phlebotomists use various procedures to draw blood from donors depending upon their physical condition. The job of a phlebotomist is to draw blood causing minimum discomfort and in the most professional manner. This profession is not only about drawing blood but also using communication and interpersonal skills to put the donors at ease.

Other jobs of phlebotomists include sampling their collection and storing them in methods prescribed. A thorough knowledge of blood contamination and laboratory processes is required for this purpose.

There are various phlebotomy courses available all over the country and there are also agencies that certify phlebotomists. In order to make a career in phlebotomy, it is important to get certified because most employers today look at these certifications.

Phlebotomists have an enormous career opportunity in the market because the number of people donating their blood is increasing day by day. Hospitals and healthcare clinics employ phlebotomists to ease the burden on their doctors and nurses.

To see the process of phlebotomy, click or copy and paste the following link in your Internet browser – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGemPY13sxM.

Phlebotomy – History

phlebotomy historyPhlebotomy as a procedure was started more than 2,000 years ago and was popular among medical practitioners till the late 19th Century. It was commonly referred to as bloodletting. From the ancient Greeks to the Egyptians, from the people in Mesopotamia to the Mayas and the Aztecs – doctors used bloodletting for curing diseases. Hippocrates referred to the concept of menstruation when he prescribed bloodletting to bring patients back to health. Galen, his student is credited as the initiator of bloodletting as a medicinal practice.

phlebotomy practice in pastIn the 2nd Millennium, bloodletting was done by the barbers upon recommendation of physicians. The red and white striped poles in the modern barbershops are a token of this fact.

Phlebotomy was earlier done by dilating a vein and then cutting it. The blood was collected in containers. The modern process of phlebotomy uses needles to puncture a vein so that the blood can be collected in a container.

Phlebotomy as a practice is now used in the case of only a few specified diseases as it has been established that bloodletting is not effective for curing most diseases. Instead, it weakens the patient. Phlebotomy is mostly used for blood diagnosis and analysis.

Phlebotomy Today

Today, phlebotomy is used in curing select diseases. Otherwise, it is used mainly for blood transfusion and blood diagnosis. Some of the diseases that are cured with phlebotomy include –

Hemochromatosis – This is a condition when there is iron overload in blood. This is a hereditary disease or can be caused due to a metabolic disorder. Phlebotomy is undertaken to reduce the iron content. During the initial period, phlebotomy is done once a week to get the iron content within normal range. Later on, depending on the case, the procedure is repeated once a month or even once every three months.

Polycythemia vera –
In this case, too many red blood cells are created by the bone marrow. It can also be caused due to overproduction of WBC and platelets. The blood may get thickened due to this overproduction. Phlebotomy is undertaken to reduce the blood content and as a result, the RBC, WBC or platelets content.

Porphyria cutanea tarda – This results from the low production of enzymes that affect the fifth stage of the production of heme that is a component of hemoglobin. Phlebotomy is undertaken to ensure the reduction of excessive iron that gets overloaded in the blood as a result.

Blood transfusion – Blood transfusion involves the transfer of blood from one person to another. In cases where there is severe blood loss due to some accident or trauma, phlebotomy can turn out to be life saving. Blood transfusion is also used in cases of anemia (lack of adequate number of RBC), thrombocytopenia (presence of inadequate number of platelets in the blood) or sickle-cell disease (RBC taking up a sickle shape, thus reducing life expectancy).

Blood diagnosis – Blood is drawn intravenously for obtaining blood sample or intravenous therapy. Among other specialists, phlebotomists do this job. Since blood analysis is an important tool for diagnosing various diseases, phlebotomy is considered a vital process.

Who is a Phlebotomist?

A phlebotomist, to put it simply, is a certified and qualified technician who is well trained in the domain of blood drawing. There are physicians who do this job and also other professionals like paramedics, medical assistants and clinical laboratory scientists. The job of a phlebotomist is important because they help reduce the work load of doctors. Their primary job is blood collection, be it in hospitals or blood donation camps.

The job of a phlebotomist is a specialized one and proper certification and training is a must for someone to make a career in this field. Apart from being a qualified professional who can draw blood with minimum fuss and causing as less pain as possible, there is another important quality that a phlebotomist must possess.

There are many who have a phobia of needles. They cannot bear the thought and sight of someone puncturing their vein and drawing blood. To allay their fear, a phlebotomist needs to be a good communicator. They need to reassure the blood donator and make the process as simple as possible. People prefer visiting phlebotomists who can make them feel at ease.

To see a phlebotomist in action, click or copy and paste the following link in your Internet browser – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoNQnWl0Nsw.

How to become a Phlebotomist?

To become a phlebotomist, one needs some basic educational qualification and training. In the USA, the requirements to become a phlebotomist vary from one state to another, but generally a high school diploma or equivalent degree and six-week phlebotomy certification training is required.

Education:

The basic educational requirement is a bachelor’s degree with medical technology or any life science as major. One can also become a phlebotomist by combining education and on the job training. Some of the courses in the bachelor’s degree include biology, chemistry, mathematics and statistics and microbiology in addition to some other courses related to phlebotomy skills. Some programs also include courses in computer applications and management.

As per the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act, 1988, an associate degree is mandatory for those phlebotomists who conduct complex laboratory tests. The associate degree may be earned from a junior or community college, a hospital, Armed Forces or a vocational or technical school.

There are about 60 programs for phlebotomists that are accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

Phlebotomy Training Programs:

The phlebotomy training programs are available at community and technical schools and colleges. Enrolled students need to go through some mandatory subjects like –

  • Phlebotomy Medical Terminology that deals with all the terminologies associated with the profession of phlebotomy.
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or CPR is an emergency procedure of external cardiac massage and artificial respiration.
  • Patient Interaction Principles – This involves proper interaction with the blood donor and putting them at ease.
  • The legal aspects related to the collection of blood.
  • An introduction to clinical practices associated with phlebotomy.
  • The different techniques associated with blood collection.

After the successful completion of the training program, the students may now apply to become certified phlebotomists.

Certification and Licensing:

In order to be certified, students need to clear exams that are conducted by various agencies. Some of these agencies include ACA or the American Credentialing Agency, NHA or the National Healthcareer Association, NCCT or the National Center for Competency Testing, ASCP-BOC or the American Society for Clinical Pathology’s Board of Certification, and AMT or the American Medical Technologists. Phlebotomy is covered in the nationally recognized exam of AAMA–American Association of Medical Assistants. Those who are generally hired as phlebotomists are Certified Medical Assistants (CMA). In the case of National Healthcareer Association (NHA), there is one general certification for phlebotomy and EKG technicians. It is important to note here that not all the certificates are valid in all the states. One needs to enquire beforehand before attempting to clear a phlebotomy examination conducted by the various agencies.

In some cases, there is no need to take an examination if one can furnish documentary proof of a year’s or more of experience in phlebotomy.

There are some states that require phlebotomists to be registered or licensed but this requirement varies from state to state. In California, for example, one can only become a certified phlebotomist if they are certified legally and after attending a training program that has been approved by the state and clearing exams conducted by ACA, NHA, ASCP and NCCT. The information on whether licensing or registration is required for a particular state is required can be obtained from the respective State Health Board.

To see a phlebotomy class being conducted, you can click the link or copy and paste it in your browser – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyWNXg4xZa8.

Recommended schools for Phlebotomy Training

devry universityDeVry University has both campus and online programs and they offer Bachelor in Clinical Laboratory Science, Bachelor in Biomedical Technology and Associate in Electroneurodiagnostic Technology.

south universitySouth University Online offers online programs in BS in Health Sciences, BS in Healthcare Management and AS in Allied Health Science.

keiser universityKeiser University offers online programs in Bachelor of Sciences – Health Science, Bachelor of Arts – Health Services Administration, Associate of Arts – Health Services Administration and Associate of Sciences – Medical Assistant.

anthem campusAnthem offers campus and online programs in BS in Healthcare Management, AAS in Surgical Technologist, AS in Surgical Technologist and Diploma in Medical Assistant.

walden universityWalden University offers online programs in General Ph.D. in Health Services, Health Management and Policy with Ph.D. in Health Services, Master of Healthcare Administration – General, General (BSN Track) with MS in Nursing, RN Track with MS in Nursing – General and General BS in Nursing.

Ashford University offers online programs in Master of Arts – Health Care Administration and Bachelor of Arts – Health Care Studies: Medical Technology.university

kaplan universityKaplan University offers online programs in Nurse Administrator for MS in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Health Science, Advanced Start BS in Health Science, Advanced Start BS in Public Health, Advanced Start BS in Healthcare Administration, Bachelor of Science in iPublic Health, Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting, and Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration.

University of PhoenixUniversity of Phoenix offers campus and online programs in Ph.D. in Nursing, Doctor of Health Administration, Master of Health Administration, Master of Science in Nursing, BS in Nursing, BS in Health Administration, AA in Health Care Administration, Health Care Informatics Certificate and Nursing-Health Care Education Certificate.

Strayer UniversityStrayer University offers online programs in Master of Health Services Administration and BBA – Health Services Administration Concentration.

Virginia CollegeVirginia College offers online programs in Bachelors – Health Services Management, Associates – Medical Assistant, Medical Assistant Certificate, Medical Assistant Diploma and Diploma – Practical Nursing.

Sarasota County Technical InstituteApart from all of these schools, one of the top names in phlebotomy training is Sarasota County Technical Institute, located near Tampa, FL. Both day and evening classes are available and the entire training program is of duration of 165 hours. Some of the topics covered include current trends and standards in phlebotomy, specimen collection and processing, phlebotomy procedures and communication and interpersonal and professional skills. Both classroom are practical training programs are included in the course.

While three courses focus on phlebotomy skills, clinical skills and employability, the fourth course focuses on basic health care and health careers core. Some of the topics covered in the fourth course include Basic Life Support Certification, HBV and HIV, Infection Control, Legal and Ethical Responsibilities, Communication Skills, Health Care Delivery Systems, CPR, Emergency Situations, Computer Literacy and Mathematics and Science.

Recommended Books

1.Blood Collection: A Short Course by Susan King Strasinger, Marjorie Schaub Di Lorenzo.

2.Phlebotomy Handbook: Blood Specimen Collection from Basic to Advanced by Kathleen Becan-McBride, Diana Garza.

3.Blood Specimen Collection FAQs: Answers to Hundreds of the Most Frequently Asked Questions on Specimen Collection by Dennis J. Ernst, Lisa O. Balance.

4.The Complete Textbook of Phlebotomy (Hoeltke, The Complete Textbook of Phlebotomy) by Lynn B. Hoeltke (Paperback – Jan 6, 2006).

5.Phlebotomy: Essentials of Performing Phlebotomy, Circulatory System, Blood Tests, Tools, Techniques, Equipment, Color-Coded Tops & (Quickstudy: Academic) by Kathryn Almquist, and Jacqueline Stawicki (Pamphlet – Dec 2009)

6.The Phlebotomy Workbook by Susan King Strasinger, and Marjorie Schaub Di Lorenzo (Paperback – May 26, 2003).

7.Phlebotomy Essentials by Ruth E. McCall, and Cathee M. Tankersley (Paperback – Apr 22, 2008).

8.Phlebotomy Exam Review (McCall, Phlebotomy Exam Review) by Ruth E. McCall, and Cathee M. Tankersley (Paperback – Feb 1, 2008).

9.Phlebotomy: Worktext and Procedures Manual by Robin S. Warekois BS MT(ASCP), and Richard Robinson NASW (Paperback – Mar 13, 2007).

10.Phlebotomy Essentials by Ruth E. McCall, Cathee M. Tankersley.

Career in Phlebotomy

The job of a phlebotomist involves drawing blood from patients or donors. So, before you seek a career in this field, ensure that you are not afraid of needles or the sight of blood. You may think that what is all the fuss about drawing blood and why should you take up a career as a phlebotomist? To answer your question, phlebotomy is a professional and certified job and it requires some basic education and training to get qualified. Our doctors today are already burdened with a number of patients. Phlebotomists play a very important role to ease the burden on the doctors. Drawing blood is an important activity for diagnosis and analysis for many diseases. This is why more and more hospitals and healthcare clinics now employ full time phlebotomists in their ranks.

If you visit any of the career sites in the country you will find multiple requirements in the field of phlebotomy. The demand for certified phlebotomists is huge. Since the educational requirements and training for phlebotomists is less grueling than other medical professions, it is quite easy to become a phlebotomist and make a career in this field. What you get are consistent work hours, steady salary and added benefits. The starting salary for medical phlebotomists starts at around $23,928. This salary increases steadily as one progresses in terms of experience. There are also other benefits, both monetary and non monetary, that are part of this job.

A career as a phlebotomist is a challenging and a fulfilling one. There are many that are taking up this career. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of phlebotomists is bound to go up with population growth as well as the development of newer types of blood tests.

Some of the career options for phlebotomists include –

Phlebotomy Technician
Blood Bank Manager
Laboratory Technician
Blood Bank Technician

Please view this video for your phlebotomy career – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpH052Ak7AA.

The graph below depicts the median salary for phlebotomists in the United States.

Phlebotomist Salary

Phlebotomist Salary

Phlebotomy – FAQ

Here we present most common questions asked pertaining to phlebotomy.

1.I want to become a phlebotomist after high school. What do I need to do?

The requirements vary from state to state. You can attend a school to become a medical assistant and then take a certification test. Make sure that the school has an internship program in a hospital or a laboratory.

2.I’m a medical assistant student and looking for a certified phlebotomy class. Where should I look?

You can ask your school or a local hospital or a nursing home to get the information.

3.What is the difference between a phlebotomist and a medical assistant?

A phlebotomist draws blood while a medical assistant also does extra work like patient care and billing.

4.How can I find a phlebotomy training course in my area?

Most of the local hospitals sponsor and teach phlebotomy. They also offer jobs post completion of the course and make the interns eligible for certification.

5.What kinds of tests do I need to take to get into a phlebotomy class?

You need to undergo a preliminary test on the subject of your choice from the ones that are accredited.

6.What is ASCP certification?

ASCP is American Society for Clinical Pathology and they offer phlebotomy certification. Most employers today want certified phlebotomists and this certification is one of the in demand certifications.

7.How do I get a job as a phlebotomist?

You need a certificate in phlebotomy. There are schools that offer training in phlebotomy and then you can get a certificate from American Credentialing Agency (ACA), National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), National Healthcareer Association (NHA), American Medical Technologists (AMT) and American Society for Clinical Pathology’s Board of Certification (ASCP-BOC).

8.Is phlebotomy career a good one?

It is a good career because you have a steady income, consistent hours and other benefits thrown in.

9.How do I get a phlebotomy license?

You can get it from one of the local schools or some technical colleges.

10.How long does it take to become a certified phlebotomist?

It takes about six weeks to become a certified phlebotomist.

Phlebotomy – Some “How To” Questions Answered

How to get a phlebotomy certification?

Search the Internet for a university, local or technical school or other facilities in your area that offer phlebotomy certification. Check the regulations for your state to find out about the phlebotomy certification prerequisites. Complete your course and clear the professional certification exam and receive the certificate. You may even get placed by your institute.

How to become a phlebotomist?

You can visit the website of American Medical Technologists (http://www.amt1.com) and search for phlebotomist in the search box. Then select the option “career as a phlebotomy technician”. Read the educational requirements and the job description. You can then visit http://www.allalliedhealthschools.com and check out the “find healthcare schools” link. Next you need to click on the link that says “phlebotomy tech”. Search and select your nearest school or local college. Enroll into the course, complete the course requirements and clear your certification.

How to become a phlebotomy technician?

Attend one of the licensed schools, local or technical colleges and learn the skills related to phlebotomy technicians. Ensure that the school offers you an internship. After the end of your internship, clear the certification exam conducted by agencies like National Phlebotomy Association. Now you can search for phlebotomy technician jobs in your area or anywhere in the country or even outside. Apply to multiple jobs and appear for the interview. With more education, experience and a certification you stand to land better jobs.

How to spend a typical workday as a phlebotomist?

You will be part of the clinical laboratory team and work under one or more medical technologist. Your primary job will be to take blood, urine or stool samples for the clinical laboratories. Venipuncture is one of the important jobs that will keep you busy. As part of venipuncture, you must assemble all the equipment required to draw blood. You will then need to put a tourniquet to the arm of the patient, swab the puncture area with antiseptic and draw blood by inserting a needle into the vein. You will collect the blood in a tube and seal the puncture by applying pressure. The tube now needs to be labeled. You need to follow all safety procedures during this entire process.

How to draw blood?

The first step in the process of drawing blood is to take the details of the patient – the name and date of birth. You will need this information to label his or her blood sample tube. Your next job is to arrange all the required accessories like needles, tubes, alcohol swab and tourniquet. You now need to draw blood from the inner part of the forearm called the median cubital vein. This vein is close to the skin and not surrounded by too many nerves. Put the tourniquet on the arm to make the vein prominent. Pat it and find out the best angle to insert the needle. The needle insertion must be done quickly and smoothly to lessen the pain. The vacutainer must be now pushed into the holder and it will fill automatically with the required amount of blood sample needed. If you are using an old syringe, you can draw blood into the syringe by drawing it back. Pull out the needle and apply gauze to the wound with appropriate pressure. Mix the sample and label the tube.

How to handle difficult phlebotomy cases?

In case you are not able to locate the vein, you must ask the patient to clench his or her fist to make it prominent. If the elbow area vein is not prominent, you can also draw blood from one of the veins in the hand, wrist or feet. If you cannot puncture the vein properly, immediately ask for assistance from another phlebotomist. You may also need to deal with patients who have undergone numerous venipuncture procedures due to treatment by chemotherapy. In such cases, you may need to make multiple punctures. If a patient feels unwell during the venipuncture process, you may make him or her lie down and make them comfortable.

How to calm patients who are scared?

In case a patient is scared or anxious, you must engage him or her in conversation to calm the nerves. Your job will be to take the patient’s mind off the venipuncture process. As a phlebotomist, it is not only your job to draw blood expertly but also to be able to make your patients feel comfortable. You must be soft spoken with great interpersonal skills.

How to become a phlebotomy teacher?

You can visit the website of the American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals (http://www.acacert.com) and download the application form for certified phlebotomy instructors. You need to fill it up and get it signed by your head of college or school. The completed form, the required documents and $150.00 needs to be mailed to the American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals. You need at least three years’ work experience as a phlebotomist to qualify for a teaching job. You need a certificate from your employer and also need to show that you completed 10 hours of medical continuing education in the year gone by. One year of teaching experience makes you eligible to be a phlebotomy instructor. There is no exam needed for this. Your phlebotomy certification, state license (if needed) and CPR certificate is needed for you to become a certified phlebotomy teacher. You can now search for jobs as a phlebotomy teacher.

How to search for phlebotomy jobs?

In some cases, your institute will place you as a phlebotomist. If this is not the case then you can always go through job sites and look for jobs as a phlebotomist. Once you upload your resume along with all the required documentation and proof, you can have the job site search the right jobs for you and send you emails. You can also use their search facility to look for the jobs in your area or other areas.

How about traveling phlebotomy jobs?

When you work with hospital and clinics as phlebotomy technician, your job may sometime require you to travel to the home of the patient to collect the blood sample. There are some patients who are so ill that they cannot make it to the hospital or clinic on their own and need to be serviced at their residence. You will need to drive your own vehicle or take some other mode of transport to make the visit but you will be reimbursed as per the policy.

Resources and Links

This post in book format .DOC Document

Phlebotomy gone wrong – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5J4seCw6jI&feature=PlayList&p=EC6CFA51C6F5AFE9&playnext_from=PL&index=0&playnext=1

Phlebotomy Technician – Wisconsin Technical Colleges – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P-ANfTyru8&feature=PlayList&p=E106DE112B2BFAC3&playnext_from=PL&playnext=1&index=2

Phlebotomy at the Institute of Medical Education – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHh1kfelfrs

Phlebotomy – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRqxy_2g0NQ

Performing venipuncture – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP48pCAzB74&feature=related

Arterial blood gas sampling – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stxntv0KkBE&feature=related