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What Is A Phlebotomist?

Phlebotomy is the process of making a puncture in a vein with a needle, for the purpose of taking blood. The procedure itself is known as a venipuncture. A person who performs phlebotomy is called a “phlebotomist”, although doctors, nurses, medical laboratory scientists and others do portions of phlebotomy procedures in many countries

Phlebotomists are people trained to draw blood from a patient (mostly from veins) for clinical or medical testing, transfusions, donations, or research. Phlebotomists collect blood primarily by performing venipunctures (or, for collection of minute quantities of blood, finger sticks). Blood may be collected from infants by means of a heel stick.

The duties of a phlebotomist may include properly identifying the patient, interpreting the tests requested on the requisition, drawing blood into the correct tubes with the proper additives, accurately explaining the procedure to the patients, preparing patients accordingly, practicing the required forms of asepsis, practicing standard and universal precautions, performing the skin/vein puncture, withdrawing blood into containers or tubes, restoring hemostasis of the puncture site, instructing patients on post-puncture care, ordering tests per the doctor’s requisition, affixing tubes with electronically printed labels, and delivering specimens to a laboratory

Special state certification in the United States is required only in four states: California, Washington, Nevada, and Louisiana. A phlebotomist can become nationally certified through many different organizations. However, California currently only accepts national certificates from six agencies.

These include: American Certification Agency (ACA), American Medical Technologists (AMT), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), National Center for Competency Testing/Multi-skilled Medical Certification Institute (NCCT/MMCI), National Credentialing Agency (NCA), National Healthcareer Association (NHA), National Phlebotomy Certification Examination (NPCE).

These and other agencies also certify phlebotomists outside the state of California. To qualify to sit for an examination, candidates must complete a full phlebotomy course and provide documentation of clinical or laboratory experience. 



Phlebotomist Job Responsibilities and Duties:

  • Read, interpret and verify test requisitions using physician orders and records from nursing logs
  • Identify, verify and label patient information on all forms and supplies, especially when working with multiple patients in at a time
  • Determine the preferred method for drawing blood by assessing the needs and physical condition of each patient individually
  • Maintain sample integrity by following proper sanitation techniques, department processes and isolation techniques

    Track and transport specimens through detailed labeling, sorting, organizing and coordinating with the processing laboratory
  • Determine best practices for unusual test orders and communicate with nursing staff physician, pathologist and laboratory to ensure clarity and effective results
  • Maintain a working knowledge of new techniques through continuing education programs, reading specialized publications and utilizing professional organizations
  • Uphold a professional, yet compassionate, demeanor while caring for patients of all ages and in many degrees of physical health
  • Enrich phlebotomy department reputation by giving high-quality service to patients and taking on new tasks with a willing approach

Certification Requirements for Phlebotomists

Because of the variety of areas in which phlebotomists practice their craft, the options for certification and education in phlebotomy are equally varied. Individual states, hospitals, and practices all have different standards for what constitutes sufficient training in order to work in the field of phlebotomy.

The majority of institutions will accept certification from one of the many entities that provide phlebotomy examinations. Because certification and licensing regulations vary from state to state, prospective phlebotomy students should contact their state’s board of health to learn about their particular licensing requirements.

Various associations offer certification for phlebotomists, but the certification programs can vary in quality; it’s important to research each one before making a commitment of time and money. Each association has its own eligibility guidelines, but most of them require that applicants have a certain level of education and professional experience.

  • The Center for Phlebotomy Education outlines the following requirements to help phlebotomists identify a worthy certification agency:
  • Agencies should be in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Agencies should have earned recognition for engaging in ethical business practices.
  • Agencies should utilize instructional materials and exams that adhere to standards established by the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI).
  • Certification procedures should involve assessment through an exam.
  • National recognition is important

Some of the major examination providers include American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals, American Medical Technologists, American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians, National Center for Competency Testing, and National Health Career Association.

How much does a Phlebotomist make in the United States?

The average Phlebotomist salary in the United States is $34,435 as of October 30, 2019, but the range typically falls between $31,018 and $38,462. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession. With more online, real-time compensation data than any other website, Salary.com helps you determine your exact pay target.

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