What is a Phlebotomist?
A phlebotomist is someone who is trained in the techniques of drawing blood from patients for testing, transfusions, blood donations, etc. in a wide array of venues including clinics, blood banks and hospitals. Phlebotomist training can take place through workplace training, colleges, accredited learning institutes as well as online. The main key factors to keep in mind when searching for any phlebotomist training course is to ensure that they provide:
- Hands-on training – this is a vital component of any phlebotomist training program as both prospective employers and the certification board will require a predetermined number of practical training hours.
- Preparation for professional certification – all recognized certification bodies throughout the United States have stringent guidelines for passing their certification exams. It is extremely important that your course adequately prepare you for these exams.
- The school and program are accredited by a recognized accrediting agency – It is recommended that you check with one of the certification associations to ensure that the schools you are considering adhere to their course curriculum and practical training prerequisites.
Why Take a Phlebotomist Training Program?
Even for those who are pursuing a degree program, phlebotomist training can be completed in a relatively short period of time and is an excellent means of entering the health care field. Trained professionals are in constant demand and with the industry growing at such a rapid rate, there are many choices for exciting and challenging career opportunities. The right phlebotomist training program can open doors in a wide variety of venues such as:
- Community clinics
- Blood banks
- Private physicians offices
- Extended care facilities
Phlebotomist training involves more than just learning to draw blood from patients. In addition to practical hands-on training, accredited schools that teach phlebotomy (also referred to as venipuncture) include classroom studies on topics such as:
- Blood & cell composition
- Anatomy & physiology
- Laboratory safety procedures
- Blood sampling techniques
- Safety & infection control
- Difficult blood collections
- Medical terminology
- Legal issues
- The difficult patient
When searching for the best phlebotomist training program, it is important to get as much detailed information from a number of different training institutes before making your final decision. Although regulations vary from state to state and not all states require professional certification in order to work as a phlebotomist, the reality is that without certification it will be next to impossible to secure employment in the field. There are a number of recognized certification organizations throughout the United States that can help you in your search for an accredited phlebotomist training program with websites that list their exam requirements. Some of these are:
The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
- You can visit the ASCP website for more detailed information on what is needed to qualify for certification including required classroom courses that must be taken. To be ASCP certified your hands-on laboratory training must be in a facility regulated and approved by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment as outlined by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
The Association of Phlebotomy Technicians (APT)
- In order to qualify for APT certification students who do not possess previous experience must be members in good standing with the APT, successfully complete an accredited phlebotomist training program, have undergone a minimum of 5 successful skin punctures and have 100 or more documented venipunctures.
The National Phlebotomy Association (NPA)
- The NPA also has specific requirements in order to be eligible for professional certification such as hands-on training, a minimum number of classroom study hours, etc. They have certified thousands of phlebotomists throughout the United States as well as Barbados, Canada, Switzerland, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The NPA also offers accredited phlebotomy classes in workplace venues such as hospitals, colleges, universities and other health care facilities.
- For more information on various costs and levels of phlebotomy certification through the NPA you can visit their site at: http://estore.websitepros.com/761306/Categories.bok
There are also a number of other nationally recognized phlebotomy certification bodies that will provide prospective students with valuable information on accredited training programs and certification requirements, some of which are:
American Certification Agency at:
American Medical Technologists at:
National Center for Competency Testing at:
American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification at:
Once you have a better understanding of the requirements for phlebotomy certification it will make choosing a phlebotomist training program much easier. Some of the things you should consider before enrolling in any program are:
- The prerequisites required for enrollment
- Cost of the program
- Extent of hands-on training module
- Do they provide adequate training for certification?
- School and program accreditation standing
- Do they provide student financial aid if needed?
- What is the application process?
- Any additional fees associated with the program
- Availability of student residence (if you will be studying out of state)
A couple of other factors to consider when researching phlebotomist training programs are the location of the school and the time it takes to complete the program. In regards to location, you will have to decide whether or not you are able to leave your home town in the event that there is no facility close to home to complete your training. This is where the issue of the school having student residences available becomes a serious question. You may also have limitations on the length of time you have for completing any type of training program. Although you want to ensure that the program you enroll in is properly accredited, you may have to shop around somewhat to find one that fits into your personal time constraints.
Below is a state by state list of schools and training institutes that offer recognized phlebotomist training programs. Remember to visit several school sites and request more detailed information from all schools that you may be considering. The more information you have, the easier it will be to make an intelligent and informed decision about which program will best suit your needs. It is also a good idea to call the local blood banks, laboratories, clinics or hospitals who will generally be more than happy to give you valuable information on tips for picking the best phlebotomy programs. In the event that you are unable to find a training program in your area, one of the phlebotomy certification associations should be able to help you find a program in or close to your community.
Always keep in mind that the better the reputation of the school the better received you will be when applying for a job as a phlebotomist. It is worthwhile to take the necessary time to get as much information from phlebotomy certification associations as well as requesting more detailed information from a number of different schools before making any final decisions.