The healthcare industry is one of the most robust employment sectors in the US today and offers several career options for those who have an interest in helping to provide high quality medical care to the public. According to government statistics, healthcare is expected to grow by 30% between 2010 and 2020. This rate is more than twice that of the general economy and will serve to create several new jobs in the coming years. The overall strength of this sector is demonstrated by the fact that it experienced growth of 25% from 2000 to 2010 during which time employment in general dropped by more than 2%.
What is a Phlebotomist?
A phlebotomist is a specialist in the area of collecting blood for laboratory analysis, transfusions, donations, and medical research. Although most people in this field are employed by hospitals, they can also be found working in local medical and diagnostic laboratories, blood donation facilities, outpatient centers, and the offices of physicians. Most of these work settings require individuals to complete phlebotomy training prior to becoming an employee. Other job titles that are assigned to a phlebotomist include laboratory assistant, patient service technician, and registered phlebotomist. Advanced medical providers such as physicians and nurses are heavily dependent on individuals in the profession for the timely and accurate collection of blood products that are used to both diagnose and treat a variety of different medical conditions.
Phlebotomy Training Requirements
Employment in this profession is an excellent career advancement opportunity for those who prefer not to complete a college degree or extensive specialty training. Most phlebotomy training programs last less than a year and are offered by community colleges and vocational schools. While graduates of these programs do not receive a college degree, they are typically awarded a certificate or diploma that demonstrates their competence in the field. In most cases, both classroom instruction and hands-on laboratory experience are required activities designed to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills they will need in order to become successful. On-the-job training is also offered by some employers who want to prepare new employees for the unique methods used in the facility to collect and track blood samples.
Licensing and Certification
Similar to other entry-level allied health professions, the phlebotomist is generally not required to complete a state approved licensing process. Although a state license is not required to work in this industry, most employers and a few state agencies do expect individuals to complete both a formal phlebotomy training program and a nationally recognized certification exam specific to the profession. Examinations are generally completed after the training process. While not every facility has these expectations, national certification has become a common requirement in several health professions and is a very popular approach to evaluating an individual’s competence and overall suitability for long-term employment. National organizations that offer phlebotomist certification exams include the National Center for Competency Testing, American Society for Clinical Pathology, and the American Medical Technologist (AMT).
Personality Traits and Character Qualities
Phlebotomy training programs and on-the-job instruction are very effective tools for preparing individuals to carry out the technical responsibilities associated with being a phlebotomist, but they cannot compensate for a lack of compassion, enthusiasm, and solid work ethic. Those who plan to pursue a career in this profession should be able to work in a fast-paced medical environment without compromising their commitment to providing high quality patient care and compassionate personal interaction. Many patients suffer from a high degree of anxiety associated with having blood drawn and they often depend on the verbal support of the phlebotomist to help them get through the experience with as little distress as possible.
In general, those who are most successful in this field possess very specific qualities that include a strong desire to help, the ability to perceive social cues, an appreciation for the importance of listening and critical thinking, effective communication, an ability to express oneself in a constructive manner, detail oriented, good hand-eye coordination and dexterity, and a willingness to work with others. These attributes are highly sought after by employers and they are often included in the job description as fundamental elements for personal and professional satisfaction. Those who feel that they are a good candidate for a career in this rewarding profession are encouraged to contact local employers to learn more about job openings that are available in their area.