Becoming a Certified Phlebotomist

Did you know that you can become a phlebotomist in a year or less? You can even get certified, which a lot of employers prefer.

If you have visited The Apprentice Doctor previously, you know we are a group of professionals dedicated to supporting individuals interested in pursuing careers in allied health professions. If you’d like to enter the healthcare field quickly consider become a certified phlebotomist. If needles make you uncomfortable with needles, don’t worry. You may be able to overcome any initial discomfort, or fear, through practicing with a venipuncture kit at school or even at home.

certified phlebotomistWhat does a certified phlebotomist do?

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Hi, my name is Holly.

Earlier today I had to give blood as part of my annual physical. If you are anything like me, you’d almost rather do anything else than give blood, but sometimes you just have to do it. Today the phlebotomist, the person who took the blood vials, was really great. She kept me calm because she understood my nervousness. She explained everything she did before she did it and I don’t think I felt anything – not even that little bee sting that they say it always feels like. I really appreciate phlebotomists who try to make that experience as pleasant and as painless as possible. I don’t always get a phlebotomist like that, but today I did.

Now, as you’ve probably gathered, a phlebotomist is a person who draws your blood. They also facilitate transfusions and they help with blood donations. A big part of their job is keeping people calm. And if anyone has an adverse reaction, like fainting, they have to know how to handle that.

Like always, my phlebotomist today took a lot of information. She confirmed my identity. She made sure they blood she drew matched the doctor’s orders. She arranged it for transport and she entered everything in the database so that it was finished before I left. That meant that my blood work, and the results stayed with my medical records and would remain confidential between my doctor and me.

I could tell by the condition of the lab that everything was sanitary. That meant it was tidy, organized and all the instruments were clean. That meant that the potential for contamination was low and that made me feel really good about going back to that lab. It’s up to the phlebotomist to make sure that the workplace stays that way all the time.

You, yourself, may have encountered a phlebotomist in an outpatient setting like I was in today. But they work in hospitals, doctors’ offices and other types of diagnostic labs.

Did you know that you can become a certified phlebotomist in a year or less? Many employers prefer hiring phlebotomists who have a certification backing them.

If you’re interested in this allied health profession and would like to find out more, visit The Apprentice Doctor at www.theapprenticedoctor.com
Thanks for watching today.
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Work environment

Where a phlebotomist works dictates the pace of the schedule. For example, phlebotomists who work in hospitals go from room to room to draw blood from patients. The day may feel hectic and create stresses not present in an outpatient diagnostic lab. There are also traveling phlebotomists who work in more rural areas where labs are less plentiful than in urban spaces. Regardless of where a phlebotomist works, they are always caring for individuals who may be ill, and many times afraid. So a person entering this profession must maintain high levels of compassion and patience all the time. Being able to draw blood with confidence goes a long way to keeping a patient calm, and sometimes even preventing them from fainting. The more you practice the skill, the more proficient you’ll be.

Hours

The work environment of a phlebotomist determines your hours, and even within the same organization they may vary from location to location. If there are only certain times you can work, inform a potential employer of this up front. But as with all allied health careers, schedules are hectic and demanding.

If you choose to work in an outpatient facility, chances are good you will work days and your shift may approximate a 9-5 schedule. However, if you work in an inpatient facility or hospital, your shifts and hours will vary and could include holidays, nights and weekends.

In some places you may be assigned to work three days consisting of 12-hour shifts, which is considered full time. In some cases, this may be 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Or, if you are new, you may be assigned to the 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. shift. Transitioning to a 12-hour schedule, morning or night can be stressful. But the advantage is that you’ll have more free days during the week for family time or personal hobbies.

Required education

Phlebotomists can enter the field with a high school degree, or equivalent, and some postsecondary training. Almost all phlebotomy programs are non-degree programs. They are offered in many places, including vocational or technical schools and take a year or less to complete.

Training incorporates classroom and practical application. A certain number of needle sticks, or venipunctures (drawing blood from veins) and arterial punctures (drawing blood from arteries) are almost always required. Programs leading to certification require a minimum number of documented “sticks” to meet testing eligibility criteria. Phlebotomy kits are helpful for practicing in off hours.

Phlebotomy curriculum includes the following types of courses:

  • Anatomy and physiology – Students learn about the circulatory, lymphatic and urinary systems as well as about other bodily functions.
  • Blood and cell composition – These courses teach how blood and cells are affected by infection and disease, which is the heart of the phlebotomy field.
  • CPR and first aid – Since many people are afraid of needles and may also react negatively to blood draws, phlebotomists learn how to manage these situations. Adverse reactions include fainting, dizziness or more severe reactions.
  • Lab safety – Almost all lab courses teach students how to safely handle all the lab equipment and how to clean up spills without endangering yourself or others.
  • Phlebotomy – A phlebotomy course prepares students to perform venipuncture and arterial punctures on different types of people – newborns, children, adults, and seniors. Every kind of person requires a different technique.
  • Medical terminology – Learning medical vocabulary and how to spell medical terms may be woven throughout the curriculum, or presented as a separate course early in a training program.

In addition to the theory courses, programs include hands-on lab classes and a short externship under the supervision of a phlebotomist or other seasoned professional such as a doctor or a nurse.

If you decide phlebotomy is the right field for you, your next step is selecting an appropriate program that fits your needs, timeframes and financial resources.

When considering your options, keep in mind several items:

  • Type of certification – Not all schools prepare you for all the available certifications. And not all certifying agencies accept all the institutional or programmatic accreditations. Review the upcoming section on certifications before selecting a school. You may find once you determine a specific certification, your program choices narrow. Then you can consider other factors.
  • Location – If you need something close to home, search for a program nearby. If you can commute, your options are broader.
  • Time to complete – How quickly do you want to enter the field? Some programs may take as long as a year to complete while others may only take six months. Consider your schedule and narrow your search that way.
  • Accreditation – If you plan is to obtain certification at the conclusion of your program, you must ensure the program you select is accredited. Accreditation may also allow you to apply for some federal financial assistance.

You may wonder if you can obtain phlebotomy education online. There are no fully online programs. However, you may be able to locate a blended program that offers the theory portion online. But in every case, you must physically perform the minimum number of finger and needle sticks. If you enroll in a blended program, the challenge will be finding places that can provide you with the required supervised, practical experience. It would be up to you to find a site and set it up for yourself. If this makes you uncomfortable, you’re better off going through a 100% on-ground program. In all cases you can purchase an inexpensive venipuncture kit and get needle stick practice at home.

Certifications

Is certification necessary to practice phlebotomy? The answer is: Not always. While some employers will hire phlebotomy technicians who are not certified, others may require it as part of their hiring practices. In certain states certification is required by law.

Certification gives employers the confidence that the education you received, and the practice you obtained has been verified by a third, non-school affiliated organization. Since you’ll be dealing with needles and people, which do represent specific risks, employers are very particular about the people they hire. The primary advantage of being certified is that you have a broader set of employment options and may have fewer employment barriers. Obtaining certification may earn you slightly higher wages because it verifies you possess a competent, enhanced skill set.

Each of the five available certifications has its own set of requirements. All of them are similar, but none of them are the same.

When considering a training program, if you want to seek certification, first identify the type of certification you want. Knowing that will help you select the appropriate training program. Sometimes certification preferences are determined by geographic region. It’s best to check with employers in your area to see which one they prefer when hiring.

AgencyTitle
National Healthcareer Association (NHA)Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)
American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)Phlebotomy Technician (PBT)
American Medical Technologists (AMT)Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT)
National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)National Certified Phlebotomy Technician (NCPT)
American Certification Agency (ACA)Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)

Candidates for certification must meet the eligibility requirements laid out by each organization. Most require some classroom education and clinical experience. All exams are written, but a few may also ask you to apply some of your skills, such as drawing blood, a skill you can perfect with an in-home venipuncture kit.

The charts below show the various eligibility routes of each organization. It is always advisable to refer to the organization’s website for the most current information. Unless otherwise indicated, all routes require you to pass the written and practical exams.

National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

Although the NHA offers some provisional and limited certifications, we will only cover the Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) since it is the most popular one. With a high school diploma or GED, there are three eligibility routes.

TitlesEligibility RequirementsAdditional Information
Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)•   High school graduate or GED.

PLUS

•   Certificate of completion from an accredited phlebotomy training program.

OR

•   Formal medical services military training in phlebotomy.

OR

•   One year of supervised work experience in phlebotomy within the past three years.

PLUS

•   30 venipuncture.

•   10 capillary sticks.

•   They do not guarantee their certification complies with state requirements. It is up to the applicant to determine individual state differences.

You can refer to the NHA video on how to apply for certification through them:

American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)

Although the ASCP offers a Phlebotomy Technician (PBT) certification. They’ve established four eligibility routes. If you select this certification, you’ll have to ensure the program you enroll in is approved by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). A list of their accredited programs is on their site.

TitlesEligibility RequirementsAdditional Information
Phlebotomy Technician (PBT)•   High school graduate or GED.

•   Complete NAACLS-approved phlebotomy program within the past five years.

OR

•   High school graduate or GED.

•   Complete two-part formal structured program of:

•   40 hours classroom training and 100 hours of clinical training.

•   100 successful unaided blood collections.

OR

•   High school graduate or GED

•   One or more years working full time as a phlebotomy technician.

•   NOTE: Lab must be accredited and work must have been in the last five years.

OR

•   High school graduate or GED.

•   Possession of an RN, LPN or other allied health degree that included phlebotomy training. Must have included 100 skin and venipunctures.

•   They do not guarantee their certification complies with state requirements. It is up to the applicant to determine individual state differences.

•   It may take up to three months to receive a testing date.

Their video explains their credentialing process:

American Medical Technologies (AMT)

The AMT Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT) may be the most widely recognized certification. AMT provides three eligibility routes.

TitlesEligibility RequirementsAdditional Information
Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT)•   High school graduate or GED.

•   Graduation from an accredited phlebotomy training course in the last four years. Must include 120 didactic clock hours. More hours may be required by state law.

OR

•   High school graduate or GED.

•   1040 or more hours of experience as a phlebotomy technician in last three years.

OR

•   Possess another organization’s certification PLUS

•   Meet one of the other two AMT eligibility requirements.

•   This route does not require an exam; you only have to pay a fee.

 

NOTE: All applicants must have completed:

•   50 successful venipunctures.

•   10 successful capillary punctures.

•   They do not guarantee their certification complies with state requirements. It is up to the applicant to determine individual state differences.

 

Although AMT does not provide a video on how to become certified with their organization, the following video reviews value of AMT certification.

 

National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)

If you decide you’d like the certification for the National Certified Phlebotomy Technician (NCPT), you will have to ensure the school you select is NCCT-approved. There may or may not be a school in your area. Their website provides a list of their approved schools. The NCCT allows for two eligibility options.

TitlesEligibility RequirementsAdditional Information
National Certified Phlebotomy Technician (NCPT)•   High school graduate or GED.

•   Graduation from NCCT-approved training program within the past five years.

OR

•   One year documented full time experience as a phlebotomy technician within the past five years.

OR

•   Completion of phlebotomy technician training or equivalent during US military service within the past five years.

•   2080 hours or one year of phlebotomy work experience.

•   They do not guarantee their certification complies with state requirements. It is up to the applicant to determine individual state differences.

•   Site does provide detailed information if an applicant is testing and wishes to practice in California.

American Certification Agency (ACA)

Like many of the other organizations, ACA provides you with more than one eligibility route. Their certification is a Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT).

TitlesEligibility RequirementsAdditional Information
Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) from ACA•   High school graduate or GED.

•   Completion of phlebotomy training program.

•   Proof of:

•   100 clinical hours.

•   100 venipunctures.

•   10 dermal punctures.

OR

•   High school graduate or GED.

•   One year experience as phlebotomy technician.

•   Proof of:

•   100 venipunctures.

•   10 dermal punctures.

OR

•   Have current, valid certification from another certification agency approved by ACA.

•   Meet recertification requirements.

•   They do not guarantee their certification complies with state requirements. It is up to the applicant to determine individual state differences.

Almost all these agencies provide practice tests, review courses and other materials to help you pass their exam. Regardless of the certification you select, it is always a good idea to take advantage of these materials. Doing so goes a long way toward helping you pass the exam.

Re-certification and continuing education

As with all healthcare professions, continuing education (CEU) and periodic re-certification are required.

Phlebotomy re-certification cycles differ from organization to organization, although most have adopted a program where they convert CEU credits to points. All require a re-certification fee. Each agency provides detailed manuals on how to become certified and re-certified. Once you are certified as a phlebotomist, it is strongly advised you carefully review the appropriate manual immediately so that you understand the re-certification process and the documentation required.

AgencyType of CertificationRe-Certification CycleAdditional Information
National Healthcareer Association (NHA)Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT by NHA)Every two years from date of initial certification.•   10 CEUs.

•   Two hours of attendance equals one CEU credit.

•   See their manual for details.

American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)Phlebotomy Technician (PBT)Every three years from date of initial certification.•   Utilizes a CEU credit to point conversion system.

•   See their manual under Credential Maintenance Program (CMP) for details.

American Medical Technologists (AMT)Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT)Every three years from date of initial certification.•   Utilizes a CEU credit to point conversion system.

•   See their manual for details.

National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)National Certified Phlebotomy Technician (NCPT)Every five years from date of initial certification.•   System includes process of annual re-certification status which is incorporated into the five-year cycle.

•   Utilizes a clock-hour to point conversion system.

•   See their manual for details.

American Certification Agency (ACA)Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT by ACA)Every month/year.•   CPTs must obtain .05 CEUs monthly (Example: For one year, you will need 0.5 hours x 12 months, or 6 CEUs).

•   See their manual for details.

Job outlook

As you may have determined, blood work is of vital importance in diagnosing illnesses. It can also determine minimal and optimal levels of nutrients in the body so that doctors and dietitians can assist people in improving their diets. The U.S. Department of Labor expects the employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 25 percent from 2016 to 2026.

Job prospects improve for phlebotomists who receive certification from one of the several reputable organizations mentioned in this article. Employers also value phlebotomists who can draw blood smoothly with minimal discomfort to the patient; a skill you can perfect by practicing at home.

General skills needed for a phlebotomist

When interviewing a person for a phlebotomy position, employers always look beyond education and certification. They also want phlebotomists with softer skills that assure them you have the personality, and aptitude to work with people who need blood work. They may be ill, and/or afraid of needles. So the phlebotomist must be self-assured, and very smooth when inserting shunts and needles. It also helps if you are:

  • Compassionate – Since some individuals are afraid of having their blood drawn, phlebotomists must be caring in performing their duties.
  • Detail oriented – Blood work is vital to doctors so they can diagnose health issues accurately. So phlebotomists must draw the correct vials of blood for the tests ordered, track them and then accurately enter data into a database. Attention to detail is critical. Lack of precise information could result in a misdiagnosis or patient injury.
  • Dexterous – The best phlebotomists perform needle sticks successfully on the first attempt, regardless of the type of patient. Excellent hand-eye coordination is a characteristic that contributes to this level of competence, as does ongoing practice.

One of the most difficult challenges you may face in your job search is how to secure employment without experience.

A video from the Center for Phlebotomy Education discusses this. Watching it and following the advice given may provide you with a slight edge over your competition:

Phlebotomist organizational support

Six organizations support phlebotomists and students of phlebotomy. Some of them have membership options. Membership may reduce your certification and recertification fees.

Some of the organizations only certify and re-certify phlebotomists and other healthcare professionals. Others include additional resources, continuing education, conferences, legal information, and updates on policy, safety standards, and healthcare reform.

  • American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals – They provide and promote competency certification and recertification for some healthcare professionals, including phlebotomists.
  • American Medical Technologists – AMT is nationally and internationally recognized as a certification and membership society for many allied health professions. This group ensures programs meet the highest standards of education. Their mission is promoting and supporting their members.
  • American Society for Clinical Pathology – They provide support, advocacy, and education for a variety of allied health careers. Their goal is improving patient care and advancing laboratory medicine.
  • Center for Phlebotomy Education – Their mission is to support and provide additional education for phlebotomists.
  • National Center for Competency Testing – The NCCT is a certifying agency for healthcare professionals. However, they also provide types of ongoing education for various healthcare providers.
  • National Healthcareer Association – The NHCA certifies and educates various healthcare professionals. Their mission is improving health care by advocating for greater competency in healthcare workers.

Phlebotomy course from The Apprentice Doctor!

There is no need to wait on getting practice with needle sticks. Before you step into any situation on a campus, or in a medical office, you can perfect your phlebotomy skills. The Apprentice Doctor® Phlebotomy Course and Kit teaches you how to confidently perform phlebotomy procedures. If you want to start your education toward becoming a great phlebotomist. Begin training today!

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    Comments : 8 thoughts on “Becoming a Certified Phlebotomist”

      • Hi – apologies – but we stopped most of our international shipping due to previous customers ordering Apprentice Doctor Kits, then it gets stuck at Cyprus customs for 2-3 weeks. These customers then reverse payment with their credit card company. After some time the kit arrives – and they never return the kit or make a restitutional payment. So in short it does not work out on our side (we work at a massive financial loss with international shipping).

      • Hi – apologies – but we stopped most of our international shipping due to previous customers ordering Apprentice Doctor Kits, then it gets stuck at Cyprus customs for 2-3 weeks. These customers then reverse payment with their credit card company. After some time the kit arrives – and they never return the kit or make a restitutional payment. So in short it does not work out on our side (we work at a massive financial loss with international shipping).

    1. Good evening. I am currently a Medical Assistant. I received my certifications, including phlebotomy, back in 2010. I never did my 100 sticks after. Is it possible to train for the 100 sticks? After training do you have placements on who provides the 100 stick training? Im unsure where to begin again

    2. Good evening. I am currently a Medical Assistant. I received my certifications, including phlebotomy, back in 2010. I never did my 100 sticks after. Is it possible to train for the 100 sticks? After training do you have placements on who provides the 100 stick training? Im unsure where to begin again

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