Your blood holds the answer to many questions about your body. Just a sample of the "red stuff" can determine whether you have inflammation that may lead to heart disease, can tell your doctor if your blood sugar is too high or too low, and can even provide insight into the function of your vital organs. How does this valuable liquid make its way from your veins to a laboratory for testing? Through the skilled hands of a phlebotomist.
Phlebotomy Schools: What to Expect
A phlebotomist works directly with patients to collect blood samples that will be examined in a laboratory. Phlebotomy schools offer students courses and practical experience to prepare them to collect quality specimen a laboratory can analyze. When enrolling in phlebotomy courses, you can expect to be involved in classes that cover topics such as:
- Proper use of needles and syringes
- Infection control and universal precautions
- Infectious diseases and bio-hazards
- Anatomy and physiology of circulatory and other major body systems
- Medical terminology including lab tests and abbreviations
- Preparation and anatomic site selection
- Appropriate evacuation of tube systems
- Professional development such as topics in customer service and communication
It is important to note that phlebotomy schools usually follow two different routes. One, although it includes satisfactory phlebotomy training, does not involve certification. The second route, incorporates a certification exam which students must pass to qualify for successful completion of the program. With the exception of California and Louisiana, individuals who work in phlebotomy jobs are not required to be certified. However, certified phlebotomists are often preferred by employers. If certification is your goal, be sure to investigate only nationally recognized and accredited phlebotomy degree programs. Online courses in phlebotomy are available, but you will need to obtain hands-on experience.
Career Options for Phlebotomist School Graduates
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, phlebotomy job opportunities are expected to be excellent due to the volume of laboratory tests prescribed by doctors and the development of new tests. In addition to phlebotomy jobs, you may be interested in exploring related fields of employment such as:
- Clinical Laboratory Technologist: Evaluates test results, develops and changes procedures and establishes programs to ensure testing accuracy
- Histotechnician: Cuts and stains tissue specimens for microscopic examination by pathologists
- Clinical Chemistry Technologist: Prepares specimens and analyzes the chemical and hormonal contents of body fluids
- Blood Bank Technologist: Prepares, collects and types blood and its components for transfusions
Regardless of the exact job title, all clinical laboratory personnel are trained to work with infectious specimens. Most technologist positions require a bachelor's degree while the majority of technician positions can be obtained through a two-year associate's degree program or certificate coursework.
Salary Outlook for Phlebotomist School Degree Holders
People employed in phlebotomy jobs earn different wages according to the setting in which they are working. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2007 phlebotomist working in a hospital or private clinic earned a median wage of $12.50 per hour. However, those working in a physician office laboratory earned around $13. The opposite holds true for a medical laboratory technician, who tended to earn more per hour in a hospital setting ($18.54) versus a physician office laboratory ($16.96).