Even before you decide to embark on the journey to becoming a Phlebotomist, you have to go through the preliminaries and learn about the science of phlebotomy. The concept itself might not be too well known among laymen, but its other names provide more insight into what it is…Phlebotomy is better known among the general masses by its associative concepts of venipuncture and bloodletting.
Phlebotomy or venesection is the technique of drawing blood from a live animal or human being’s vein for various purposes. The actual purpose of phlebotomy can be anything—tests, diagnosis, blood transfusions or even donations, or simply for research.
Know your vocation—the origins of Phlebotomy:
‘Phlebotomy’ – the term means “to cut a vein” in Greek. It is the method of collecting blood through an incision and dates back to the early days of bloodletting. The entire process of bloodletting revolves around the idea of drawing blood from a vein in small quantities to prevent the spread of any infection, disease or even to cure certain types of illnesses.
“Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluid were regarded as “humors” that had to remain in proper balance to maintain health. It was the most common medical practice performed by physicians from antiquity until the late 19th century, a span of almost 2,000 years.”
The practice of bloodletting was also implemented to deal with hypertension for lack of a better means of reducing blood pressure.For want of medical advancement, it was believed that bloodletting worked indirectly to lower the blood pressure by lowering the volume of blood. However, without any scientific basis to support this assumption and owing to the fact that bloodletting often proved harmful for the patient, bloodletting went out of practice.
Today bloodletting has evolved into the art of therapeutic phlebotomy, used in special cases.
Regular phlebotomy treats people who have too much iron in their blood, such as with hemochromatosis, or who are producing too many red blood cells, such as with polycythemia. Removing blood regularly decreases iron levels in the body by reducing the number of iron-rich red blood cells.
What happens during phlebotomy?
A certified and trained phlebotomist practices his art in a medical clinic. The process itself is very similar to the simple act of donating blood. A phlebotomist usually inserts a needle into a particular vein in your arm and draws about 500 ml. of blood (that’s 17 fl. Oz.).
- The entire procedure requires no more than 30 minutes.
- A patient does not need to fast or make special preparations for a phlebotomy procedure.
However, since phlebotomy deals with veins and blood, it must be carried out cautiously in order to safeguard the patients’ health interest.
Why do you need to undergo rigorous training to become a phlebotomist?
- Invasive method: The process of drawing blood is an invasive method and needs utmost care and experience on the part of the phlebotomist. One careless move and you can unintentionally harm your patient.
- Health and life risk of the patient: If the needle is not inserted into the vein correctly, the patient may experience discomfort and bruising. In a worst case scenario, the patient might suffer from health complications or even death.
- Anemia: When you are drawing blood you need to be careful that you do not draw more than recommended. If you cannot get it at one try, there may not be the possibility of a second chance. Drawing too much blood at a time from the patient can lead him to suffer from anemia.
So it is imperative that you enroll for a certified course in Phlebotomy and master the technique before practicing it.
What you need to be deemed a phlebotomist?
You can pass the certificate examination from the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians. There are also other institutions that allow an aspirant to enroll and sit for the examination.
Phlebotomy courses are conducted in many institutions, although the actual training is to be acquired while on the job. The minimum requisites in Australia to be deemed a professional phlebotomist include a Certificate III in Pathology HLT 32607 and a Certificate IV in Pathology HLT41807 from an approved institute.
You don’t need a formal certificate or training as the necessary tricks of the trade are taught while you perform your job. The National Health Service offers a formal certificate once you complete the on-field training.
Choosing an institute:
Look up the internet to find an institute that offers phlebotomy certificate courses. It should ideally be located near your location and should also be accredited.
You should also take into account:
- Cost factors
- Training facility
- Schedule for the course if you are taking more than one certificate at a time
Starting from enrolling in the course and undergoing training to completing the course with a certificate takes anything between 8 and 24 months.
- Educational Qualification: A high school diploma or a GED/ a good range of GCSEs are the minimum that most institutions require.
- Age: at least 18.
These are what an institution demands, but in order to be considered a full-fledged phlebotomist, you will also need:
- 120 hrs of accredited classroom training
- 1,040 hours of work experience (in the least) as a phlebotomist, and within a time span of 3 years
- Graduation certificate from a reputed phlebotomy institute
What are the different stages of becoming a phlebotomist?
You participate in both theoretical and practical studies, involving discussions on the various fields in phlebotomy and practice it on patients. The training you get on the job includes collecting blood from the elderly as well as children.
While you are undergoing the training, you simultaneously learn …
- The role played by phlebotomy in pathological treatments
- The different methods of collecting blood
- Analyzing blood samples and drawing inferences from the results
- The different anatomical and physiological considerations during the process
- Technical aspects of the job
- Work ethics and code of conduct including maintaining patient privacy
- Building up a relationship with the client/patient
- Understanding the needs of the patients while drawing blood and making them feel at ease
- The need to ensure the health and safety of the patient
- Legalities about practicing in a clinic, as well as practicing independently
- Earn a diploma: Take the examination and pass it with a certificate. You must research the laws in your state governing the test itself. Unless you pass the test, you cannot be deemed a phlebotomist and your training remains incomplete.
- Get certified: Unless you have a certificate, you cannot be a phlebotomist even if you have outstanding skills in the field. In order to practice your skills and to give your career a boost, you need this certification. Job opportunities are also many depending on the skill and certification. However, some states demand a license as well.
- Employment opportunities: You can look up hospitals and local clinics for a job. You can also check out the local news and job centers for hospitals that have a vacancy. You can also look up the official sites of government organizations such as the NHS, or the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics for job offers or even referrals.
How much do you need to invest to become a phlebotomist?
The cost depends on the course fee and the certification type, given that there are many to choose from. There’s also no reason why you can’t take multiple certificate examinations. The cost depends on how many exams you are taking and the type of certificate courses that you have signed up for.
As long as you take the examination from the national agencies, you do not feel the pocket pinch. There are several agencies and the fee varies accordingly. For instance, in the United States of America…
- The American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians charges around $55 for a single certificate examination. However, you have to be a member of their agency to be able to take this exam.
- The National Healthcareer Association charges around $105. No membership is required.
- The National Center for Competency Agency charges its erstwhile or current students around $90, but for people who are not its students, but interested to take the examination, the charge is $135.
- The American Medical Technologists charges a fee of $83 for their phlebotomy certification test.
- The American Certification Agency charges $100 for their phlebotomy certification examinations.
- The American Society for Clinical Pathology, one of the best known national agencies offering Phlebotomy certification course, charges $135 for the certification test. The charge is high, but most states recognize their certification, so there is less likely to be dearth in job opportunities.
Considering the returns once you become a certified phlebotomist, there is hardly any reason why anyone aspiring to be a phlebotomist and endowed with the skills, should complain about the cost/fee factor.
Points to remember:
- It is always better to check out the certificate test fee before enrolling for a phlebotomy certificate course.
- You can also have more than one certificate in phlebotomy from different agencies.
When it comes to a career as a phlebotomist, the opportunities are innumerable and fast flourishing…once you set your course to become a phlebotomist, it is up to you to hone the skills, work hard and have a bright future.