Want to Start a Bloody Nursing Career? A Phlebotomist Overview
Picture this: You're watching a movie with your friends, and a gory blood scene comes on. While everyone else starts looking away, you just keep watching, finding yourself actually interested in the scene.
Don't worry, this fascination with blood does not make you a vampire (Sorry, Twilight fans of the world). What it does mean, is that you may have a future career as a phlebotomist.
Phlebotomy is a medical specialty that involves working with blood every day.
But, what does a phlebotomist do, exactly?
Read this overview to find out.
1. What Does a Phlebotomist Do?
Chances are, as a patient, you have already seen a phlebotomist. You probably just didn't know it.
A phlebotomist is a person who collects blood from you for either donations or testing. Some will also provide assistance to patients should anything adverse occur.
Besides drawing blood, the duties of a phlebotomist include:
- Making patients comfortable, and ensuring them that there is no need to be nervous about having their blood drawn
- Verifying patient's identity to ensure proper labeling
- Labeling the blood after it's drawn
- Entering patient info into a database
- Assembling medical equipment, including but not limited to test tubes, blood vials, and needles
- Keeping all work areas clean and sanitary
In some cases, the patient's only interaction will be with the phlebotomist, so it is solely up to them that the patient feels comfortable.
Also, the importance of keeping everything labeled, clean and in order cannot be understated, as this ensures safety as well as infection prevention.
2. Work Environment
Phlebotomists can work in a variety of settings, including but not limited to hospitals, clinical laboratories, community health centers, doctors' offices, nursing homes, and blood donation centers.
They may also work for blood drives, which means they travel to different locations, such as schools, to work.
Being a phlebotomist does require a certain skillset, apart from being able to handle the sight of blood.
Note that phlebotomists are also typically required to stand for long periods of time. They also must take extreme care when handling medical supplies, because if they don't, an injury could occur.
Phlebotomists must also have good fine motor skills, as this is crucial to be able to insert a needle into a vein.
Someone who is compassionate, organized, pays fine attention to detail, and has the patience to deal with difficult people would make a great phlebotomist.
Now, let's get to the question on everyone's mind: "How much does a phlebotomist make?"
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, phlebotomists in the top ten percentile earn around $46,850. Those in the bottom tenth percentile earn around $23,330.
The median salary for a phlebotomist is about $32,710.
Phlebotomists are almost always paid hourly, and their wage will ultimately depend on their experience, location, education, and shift schedule.
However, if this salary does not seem high enough for you, there are ways you can eventually earn a higher salary.
This is typically done through promotion, in which you'd become a supervisor, or through specialized certification, such as mobile phlebotomy or therapeutic phlebotomy.
4. Education and Training Path
So, how do you go from being an aspiring phlebotomist to an actual phlebotomist?
First things first, all phlebotomists need to have a high school degree. After high school, most phlebotomists receive a post-secondary certification from a certified phlebotomy program.
These programs are available at vocation schools, technical schools, and community colleges.
The certification process typically lasts a year, and it involves classroom time as well as laboratory work. In your phlebotomy classes, you will learn about anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology, as well as the technical aspects of drawing blood.
After your training, you will need to pass a certification exam. Passing this exam is crucial, as most employers will only hire phlebotomists who are appropriately credited.
In order to qualify for this exam, you must demonstrate that you've completed 100 successful venipunctures and 25 skin punctures. The National Phlebotomy Association also says you also must demonstrate that you have completed 200 hours of training in order to qualify for the exam.
Don't worry too much about tracking all of this, because as long as you attend a legitimate phlebotomy program, you will cover all of these requirements.
Also, you need to score a 70 percent or higher in order to pass the exam.
You can read more here to learn more about the training requirements.
5. Job Outlook
So, what's the job outlook looking like for phlebotomists?
Pretty amazing, actually. Phlebotomist careers are projected to grow 24 percent over the next ten years, with about 30,000 new jobs opening, which is well above the national job growth average.
Blood analysis is a very important part of the medical field, therefore, a need for phlebotomists remains high and you shouldn't ever have to worry about not finding work.
6. Job Satisfaction Levels
Now, you're probably wondering how satisfied phlebotomists are with their jobs.
In terms of opportunities for advancement and salary increases, aka upward mobility, a phlebotomy career is about average. Stress levels are slightly above average, are you are going to be dealing with a lot of patients who are already under great duress when they come in, due to the fact they are about to have their blood drawn.
However, many people thrive in high-stress situations, so if you're one of those, this could be the career for you.
And lastly, workers say this career offers an average level of flexibility. You will likely be required to work some nights, weekends, and holidays. However, it will be fairly easy for you to swap shifts with your coworkers.
Are You Ready to Become a Phlebotomist?
Does this sound like the career field for you? Are you ready to be a phlebotomist?
Please comment below if you have any questions!