Phlebotomy Technician

Phlebotomy technicians, like other medical technicians, work largely behind the scenes. Although there are opportunities aplenty for patient care and interaction when drawing blood, the main work of the technician is taking care of the biological materials that they draw. Handling biological materials is a task for detail-oriented, organized, and meticulous individuals. There is a significant danger both to the materials themselves and to the people working in that environment. States, hospitals, and labs all have stringent rules and procedures that must be learned and practiced again and again. Some phlebotomy technicians have responsibilities in analysis and diagnosis. Phlebotomy technicians will benefit from a solid education and professional training.

Phlebotomy technicians will discover a range of venues where they can ply their trade. Hospitals are the major employers of phlebotomy technicians, but are more and more dependent on outside laboratories to complete blood work, testing, and diagnoses. Blood banks also employ phlebotomy technicians to regularly test blood samples and to maintain their blood sterility. Phlebotomy technicians are also used on blood drives and other sample taking. Universities and government laboratories do original research as do labs supported by private companies within the pharmaceutical industry. Aspiring phlebotomy technicians can gear their education towards the type of work they want to do in their professional careers.

Phlebotomy technicians may be hired without a degree, but serious applicants should seriously consider getting an education. One of the quickest and most cost-efficient ways to get into the industry is to take a certificate course in phlebotomy tech. Most certificate courses require candidates to have a high school degree or its equivalency. Courses range in the time commitment necessary, but many can be completed in a matter of weeks. These will include classroom lectures that cover anatomy and physiology. Courses will explain the processes involved in blood withdrawal and needle usage, including administering an IV. Safety and biological material handling is covered in depth. Most certificate courses also include some hands-on training observed by trained medical professionals. Phlebotomy certificate courses are taken by all kinds of professionals, including first responder like police officers and emergency medical technicians, so they are not job-specific.

There are associateís degrees in phlebotomy technology that are more comprehensive and career-oriented. A degree might take two years to complete, but, at the end, you will be more prepared for many of the problems that face a phlebotomy technician. Associateís degrees include course work specific to phlebotomy and other courses in business, math, and related fields. Such skills may come in handy during a long career.

A phlebotomy technicianís training is of course not complete until he or she learns to draw blood. Most employers offer mandatory on-the-job training to familiarize employees with safety procedures and rules. Although there are state standards for handling biological materials, many hospitals and private labs have an extra layer of safety rules to protect themselves and their employees. Young professionals should take advantage of any voluntary training an employer offers. It could also lead to increased opportunity or even promotion.

Employers and many states require that employees in the medical field stay updated in their industries. They may have continuing education requirements and recertification tests mandated every few years. One way to stay abreast of such rules is to join a professional association. There are several private associations with pharmacy technician members. These offer the classes necessary for recertification. They may also offer scholarships to help pharmacy technicians advance in their careers. As in any career, the sure path to advancement follows increased education.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014