An important diagnostic tool within the medical industry is analyzing and evaluating the blood of a patient. The blood can indicate a myriad of concerns and a thorough analysis of the blood can can be of tremendous help in the diagnosis of disease. Phlebotomy is the medical term that is used to describe the act of drawing blood from a vein. The professionals who are trained to collect the blood are known as phlebotomy technicians or phlebotomists.
Phlebotomy technicians have the responsibility of drawing blood samples from patients. A blood draw can consist of just a small tube, in the case of most diagnostic considerations, to as much as a pint at one time, in the case of blood donations. Phlebotomy technicians usually work in hospital or clinical settings and they are an important member of the healthcare team. While the most complex blood draws will include a venipuncture needle, it is also the phlebotomist who collects the blood for a finger-prick hemoglobin test. The primary role of the phlebotomy technician is to collect the blood for accurate and reliable laboratory testing, using venipuncture or capillary collection.
A phlebotomists may also work with the doctor on such specialized testing as bleeding time tests, therapeutic phlebotomy or specimen preparation. They are also often the ones that are responsible for the important function of monitoring blood pressure and pulse during blood transfusions and for blood donations at the blood banks.
A certified professional can find employment opportunities in a variety of settings in including hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices. Occasionally, their services may be required for private home care and they can often find employment in nursing and long-term care homes. The job and career outlook is very good as new types of medical tests are continuously being developed and the medical industry is such a necessary component of our society. The career of phlebotomy technician is also expected to grow in the next decade and even further into the future because of the aging of the population.
In order to become a technician it is usually required that you have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Then it is recommended that you complete a short training course, usually around 3 months of specialized training either as an apprentice on-the-job or through a formal health care program. Many schools now offer phlebotomy training programs which instruct on how to locate veins and the proper procedures for blood draws along with how to communicate with patients and put them at ease.
Once the training course has been completed the student may decide to become a certified professional. Most states do not require certification, however, many employers prefer certification and being certified can help your job prospects. Certifications are available from the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP), the American Medical Technologists (AMT) and the American Association of Medical Personnel (AAMP). All of the certifications will require that the student be able to pass a standardized test that measures their knowledge and skills. Venipuncture, record keeping and sample safety will all be included.
Becoming a phlebotomy technician can be an excellent career opportunity, the field is constantly growing and the potential for a decent salary is good.