Phlebotomy is not a career for those who don’t enjoy working with blood and veins. Although different phlebotomists might take on additional administrative or clinical tasks based on employer preferences and level of experience, most will find the majority of their time spent collecting blood. It’s certainly not a good career choice for the squeamish.
Phlebotomy Training and Careers
Phlebotomy training and certification can either be a career in and of itself or a supplement to an existing career. The amount of blood collection and laboratory work in a blood bank, hospital, laboratory, or large medical facility is often enough to employ one, if not several, full-time phlebotomists. However, in smaller offices and other medical facilities, it is not uncommon for a medical assistant, physician assistant, or even other staff members to double as phlebotomistS. In most states, the only requirement to add phlebotomy to a list of employment tasks is training and/or certification.
There are two ways to become a phlebotomist: to get on-the-job training or to take a course (which usually lasts anywhere from six weeks up to an entire year). Private vocational institutions and community colleges are among the most popular educational facilities to provide formalized phlebotomy training. In most cases, students should look for courses that last four months or fewer, since most programs are able to be completed within that time frame.
Classes typically include anatomy and physiology, blood collection, other bodily fluid collection, skin puncturing techniques, and most particularly, safety and biohazard precautions. It is the study of this last topic that makes certified phlebotomists a hotter commodity than individuals without any training.
Because incorrect billing procedures can result in lawsuits, most employers prefer to hire professionals with some level of vocational training. Training is typically offered through private vocational institutions in the form of nine-month to two-year programs, although most community colleges also have similar options.
When selecting a school for medical billing & coding, it’s important to ensure that the education being provided is current with the industry standards. Most community colleges offer adequate training in the field; in most cases, they provide general education credits and medical billing and coding classes to award Associate Degrees.
These schools also typically provide access to the certifications recommended to ensure a good job prospect. Most students turn to private vocational institutions for medical billing & coding training.
On the positive side, courses can often be completed in as little as nine months. On the negative side, students are often misled in terms of the outcome of their training.
Before choosing a school, it is best to make sure that graduates are able to sit for the necessary certification exams, that the diploma or degree is recognized by employers, and that the cost of the education is proportionate to the average starting income.
Because of the nature of the work, online courses are becoming increasingly popular for this particular field. Students should always check the accreditation of their prospective schools and ensure that the course outcome aligns with their professional goals.
Although medical billers & coders typically stay away from the clinical side of patient care, they must still have a sound understanding of medical terms, anatomy and physiology, and other health-related issues, so its best to ensure that course topics include these essentials.
Although there is certainly room for advancement in a phlebotomy career in terms of supervisory or management roles, it is not a career for those looking to work their way up a medical career ladder, since there is only so much a phlebotomist is licensed to do. Instead, the field is typically considered a good starting point for professionals to decide if they would like to continue in the medical field to pursue a medical assistant or nursing career.
Starting phlebotomists can expect to make roughly $10-$15 per hour, depending on the location and type of facility. Hospitals and blood banks tend to offer higher wages, while physician offices rank on the lower end of the scale.
As part of a career field that continually has more patients than it does staff, phlebotomists – like all health-related professionals – are expected to only become more in demand over the next 10 years.
State Regulations and National Certifications in Phlebotomy
Laws and regulations regarding the field of phlebotomy are left up to individual states. Most states allow anyone to practice as a phlebotomist, with the notable exception of California, which does require certification. No matter what state prospective phlebotomists live in, certification is still a good idea, as it increases job opportunities and the rate of pay.
There is no single, universal certification organization. Phlebotomists have the choice of testing and becoming certified through the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, the American Medical Technologists, the American Association of Medical Personnel, the National Healthcareer Association, and the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel. The Certified Medical Assistant exam also covers phlebotomy as part of its criterion.
In order to qualify for these exams, most phlebotomists have to have taken an educational course through a registered school and/or completed six months of full-time work. Furthermore, professionals have to complete continuing education courses each year to maintain their certification.
Phlebotomy Courses Online
Online courses in phlebotomy training are necessarily difficult to navigate. Because the work calls for working directly with patients to collect blood and other samples, online learning is only good for the theoretical side of the career. Prospective students seeking to enter the field for the first time should look first at community colleges and vocational training centers, as these will provide the necessary hands-on learning.
However, individuals who get hired on to become phlebotomists without any formal training can certainly benefit from online learning, since they may be able to get certification at the same time they are learning the practical, clinical side of the field. Online learning can also benefit other health-care staff looking to round out their professional resumes.