Phlebotomist: Medicine and Health Care Support

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Phlebotomist I have always wanted to work in health care and help people but I did not want to be a nurse or directly involved in individualized health plans. I wanted to work behind the scenes. I became a CPhT and went to work right away at my local hospital. Life was wonderful! I was helping sick people feel better and doing something worthwhile that came along with the means to help support my family comfortably. Then that dreadful day came, and I was laid off due to budget cuts. I decided I needed more education and that I could still have a career in health care.

I only needed to find what was right for me. I wanted a career that would not be cut. I knew that this would involve a more patient oriented environment. After exploring all of my options I decided that becoming a Certified Phlebotomist was the answer. I would be helping people; but not directly involved in their long term care, I would open up doors for career advancements in areas of interest to me, and I could still help support my family. Now I just needed to get started, but where? I researched the phlebotomy education requirements and what I would need to also be certified.

Certification would provide credentials and open doors that otherwise may remain closed and assist in advancements. There was a whole world of information that lied behind what I want to be when I grow up. First was education. I choose to go to Ivy Tech Community College. After all of my current college credit hours transferred I found that I only needed to complete a few more semesters to earn my AAS in Health Care Support with a certificate in Phlebotomy. Many of my prior courses to become a CPhT were also required in my new found career goals.

Based on Ivy Tech and state guidelines for the Health Care Support program concentrating in phlebotomy the following courses are required:

  • Anatomy and Physiology I and II
  • English Composition 111
  • Fundamentals of Public Speaking or Introduction to Interpersonal Communications
  • Humanities/Social & Behavioral Sciences Elective
  • Math 118 (or higher)
  • Introduction to Microcomputers
  • Introduction to Health Careers
  • Medical Terminology
  • Medical Law and Ethics
  • Health and Wellness for Life
  • Nutrition.

Then additional electives and concentrations are required as well. I choose the following:

  • Pharmacology for Health Care Support
  • Pharmacy Technician I and II
  • Pharmacy Technician Experiential Seminar
  • Medical Assisting Laboratory Techniques
  • Phlebotomy
  • Phlebotomy Externship
  • And the required

Capstone course Once I complete my educational requirements with Ivy Tech I will have received my AAS in Health Care Support with a concentration in Phlebotomy and be on my way to national certification through the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

In order to become certified with the ASCP I will have to apply and pay for testing, schedule an appointment, and pass testing proving my competency and knowledge on the phlebotomist technician’s professional role, scope of practice, medical ethics, and many specific career oriented questionings. As a phlebotomy technician part of my professional role will be to obtain samples of different specimens including but not limited to: blood, urine, swabs for cultures, and plasma.

Another part of my professional role will be to have compassion for my patients, be detail oriented, treat all of my patients equally, and continue my education to stay up to date with new and improved techniques and awareness in the lab. As a CPT I will play a role in my community by participating in blood drives, health fairs, and volunteering. While working in the healthcare field and as a phlebotomist there will always be potential ethicalconflicts. All patients must be treated kindly, fairly, equally, with respect and with the upmost professional attitude.

Some patients will be difficult or rude. Some patients may have different beliefs and backgrounds. As CPT I will deal with crying children, upset parents, dementia patients, maybe even pregnant teenagers. My priority will be to give them the best attention and care and to treat them all as I would want to be treated. My scope of practice will includes setting up all blood collection equipment and supplies necessary on a tray, pediatric, adolescent, adult and geriatric fingersticks, and venipuncture’s, and neonatal heelsticks for inpatient and outpatient customers.

I will also be responsible for labeling, preserving, packaging, and possibly, transporting blood specimen to the lab for analysis. I will also be expected to enroll in continuing education courses, and recertification programs to maintain my phlebotomist credentials once I am certified through the ASCP. Once certified I will have to keep my certification current by completing continuing education hours.

According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification, http://www. ascp.org/boc, (2012), qualifications may be revalidated every three years by completing 6 contact hours of acceptable continuing education in the area of qualification or 3 contact hours of acceptable continuing education in the area of qualification and 3 contact hours of other education such as employer based programs or courses (unpaid), college coursework, and workshops, just to name a few. Continuing education and other activities must be completed between the date the qualification was issued and the date the qualification expires (three year period).

I will have to send an application to the ASCP/Board of Certification, with a signed Pledge of Authenticity, documentation of my continuing education hours, and a $50. 00 application fee. As a CPT I will open doors for advancement in my career to continue my schooling and earn additional accreditation as a MLS or a MLT with a Bachelor’s Degree, or maybe even a PA! Without going back to a college or university I still have opportunity with professional advancement a CPT supervisor, shift leader, and adding other certifications; for example, becoming certified to administer and determine the results of TB test.

Finishing school and becoming a CPT all sounds wonderful! But will I find employment? What salary should I expect? These are questions that anyone finishing school needs to ask and research. According to United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www. bls. gov, (2012) “the median annual wage of medical laboratory technicians was $36,280 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned more than $24,210, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $56,040. ” The median annual wages in selected industries employing medical laboratory technicians in May 2010 were as follows: Federal government| $40,180|

Hospitals; state, local, and private| 37,130| Offices of physicians| 35,790| Medical and diagnostic laboratories| 34,280| The Bureau of Labor Statistics also state, “employment of medical laboratory technicians is expected to grow by 15 percent between 2010 and 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. An increase in the aging population will lead to a greater need to diagnose medical conditions, such as cancer or type 2 diabetes, through laboratory procedures. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians will be needed to use and maintain the equipment needed for diagnosis and treatment.

” I have completed a lot of research and a lot of in depth thought about my future and where I want to be. After all the websites, all the pros and cons, and all of the hard work; I have decided when I grow up I want to be a “phlebotomist on the stairs! ” This will be my first big leap onto that bottom step, and I will continue to climb the stairs. I have gained immense amounts of ambition from my research and I am also very excited to know there are openings out there for me!

I have also gained more knowledge about what my career will be like, my wages, my future advancements, and the satisfaction of helping others will be like. After graduation I know what to expect more now than I did two weeks ago. I know where my door is to certification. I know what wages CPT are making in different areas of the field and the nation. After graduation sounds like the end to me, when I graduate sounds so much better. When I graduate I will just be beginning!

References

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U. S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outloo. Handbook, 2012- 13 Edition, Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians, on the Internet at http://www. bls. gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-and-clinical-laboratory- -technologists-and-technicians. htm (visited September 03, 2012).
  • American Society for Clinical Pathology. (2012). U. S. Certification, on the Internet at _____ http://www. ascp. org/boc (visited September 03, 2012).
  • American Society for Clinical Pathology. (2012). Student / Teacher Resources, Retrieved online at _____http://www. ascp. org/functional-nav/career-center (visited September 03, 2012).

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