Studying for your Phlebotomy Certification Exam

Training to be a Phlebotomist should be viewed as a two step process. The first of course is enrolling in an accredited phlebotomy course to learn both the theory and practice of drawing blood. The second and equally important step is to become certified by writing the phlebotomy certification exam.  Your phlebotomy courses will give you all the knowledge and practical training you need to work in a variety of healthcare settings. The classroom portion of your program will cover such topics as:

  • Basic medical terminology
  • Customer service
  • Dealing with the difficult patient
  • Blood composition
  • Legal issues pertaining to phlebotomy
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Patient identification procedures
  • Patient assessment
  • Specimen labeling procedures

In addition to classroom study, it is extremely important that your phlebotomy training also includes an internship program giving you hands-on experience within an approved laboratory or medical facility. Since there are specific guidelines regarding where your internship takes place, it is a good idea to verify the program’s internship locations before enrolling in a phlebotomy training program. The facility must be regulated in accordance with the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment of 1988. For more information on these regulations you can visit http://www.ascp.org/functionalnavigation/certification/getcertified/techniciancertification.aspx#pbt.

Once you have obtained as much information as possible from all the phlebotomy schools and programs you are considering, it is recommended that you visit the websites of one or more phlebotomy certifying bodies to ensure your program meets their requirements. Since your ultimate goal is to secure employment as a professional phlebotomist, it is vital that at the end of your studies you will be prepared to write the certification exam. Although some states do not require certification, prospective employers are unlikely to hire anyone without hands-on experience or professional certification. There are several recognized certifying agencies, a few of which are:

  • The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
  • The Association of Phlebotomy Technicians (APT)
  • The National Phlebotomy Association (NPA)
  • American Certification Agency at (ACA)

Once you have successfully completed both the classroom and internship portions of your phlebotomy program, you are ready to take your certification exam.

Since your program will have covered a great deal of information, it is important to take the time to review all that you have learned before taking your certification exam. There is no right or wrong way to study and everyone approaches this important step in different ways. There are a number of excellent study guides that can help you choose the method that suits you the best, some of which are:

Study guide sites provide valuable practice tests that may reveal areas where more review is warranted. It is a good idea to take these quizzes and use them as tools to prepare for your certification exam. Some of the questions that are contained in these guides are:

  • When standing 3 feet from a patient, which specific comfort or zone are you in?
  • How do you stop the bleeding from a needle stick?
  • What term does the acronym CPD stand for?
  • What test is used to monitor heparin levels?
  • What is the definition of excessive RBC production?
  • What are PKU tests most commonly preformed with?
  • What does winged infusion set mean?
  • According to the NCCLS, what is the maximum recommended depth for a heel puncture

There are also a number of informative phlebotomy books that are recommended as suggested reading that can help prepare you for your certification exam, a few of which are:

  • Phlebotomy Exam Secrets Study Guide: Exam Secrets
  • Phlebotomy Exam Review by Ruth E McCall
  • SUCCESS! in Phlebotomy: A Q&A Review by Kathleen Becan-McBride
  • Complete Phlebotomy Exam Review by Pamela Primrose
  • Question and Answer Review for Phlebotomy by Kathleen Becan-McBride
  • Phlebotomy Essentials by Ruth E McCall

There is another category that people who wish to obtain their phlebotomy certification fall into. There are a large number of professionals working in the healthcare industry that have received on the job training while working in another area of the medical field many of whom wish to pass their certification in order to pursue a full time career as a phlebotomist. For those that fall into this category, it is important to contact a recognized certifying agency to find out the requirements necessary to take the exam. Once someone has passed their phlebotomy certification exam, they will be required to participate in continuing education in order to renew their license each year. This process is vital in order to keep pace with advances that are constantly taking place in the field of phlebotomy.

With such a wide variety of specialties available for trained and certified phlebotomists, it is well worth taking the time to ensure one is adequately prepared to write the certification exam. Some of the many options open to professional phlebotomists are medical laboratory technician, histotechnician, donor phlebotomy technician and more. Remember to take the time to do your research before registering for any phlebotomy program so that upon successful completion you can enjoy a fulfilling, exciting and lucrative career as a licensed phlebotomist.

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