If your research for phlebotomy certification has led you to this article, let me assure you that you will uncover everything you need to know in order to practice this necessary occupation and earn a great phlebotomist salary. One of the most important truths about this field is that, it requires a caring and empathetic person to successfully perform the required duties.
First, it is important to understand the origins of this clinical specialty. When you have a good idea how this occupation came to be, and the high regard in which it was held, you can realize a certain amount of pride in what you plan to do as a career.
Certification and Its History
For a span of almost 2000 years, up to the 19th century, the practice of Bloodletting was performed by ancient doctors to cure and prevent disease. This ancient practice has today been abandoned for pretty much all, but a very specific, few situations.
We now know that in the majority of cases, the practice of bloodletting was harmful to the health and welfare of the patients. Many in fact, died as a direct result of the amount of blood transfused. Too often, blood was withdrawn until the patient passed out.
It is known for example, that in the 1830’s, the French medical establishment, imported 40 million leeches, and Great Britain itself, imported 6 million leeches from France for the purpose of medical bloodletting.
In 1628 a medical practitioner by the name of William Harvey disvalued this theoretical practice, and in the 1830’s, one Pierre C.A. Louis, demonstrated that phlebotomy was entirely ineffective to treat pneumonia and a variety fevers. Unfortunately, bloodletting was used to treat just about every disease known to man.
Today, the new clinical specialty known as phlebotomy, has developed because of the necessity to have professional specialists capable of drawing blood and bodily fluids quickly and efficiently, leaving doctors and nurses to tend to more important duties.
Today’s phlebotomy specialist is someone who is well trained in the intricacies of drawing blood samples from a wide variety of patients, including infants and senior citizens.
Because of the importance of blood drives, many organizations such as the Red Cross and other healthcare providers and blood banks, employ phlebotomists to effect the efficient and safe withdrawal of blood from donors.
A trained and certified technician known as a phlebotomist conducts phlebotomy. It isn’t unusual to require that patients refrain from taking medications or eating and drinking at least 10-12 hours before collection.
Blood is normally collected from a vein inside of the elbow or on the back of the hand. On certain occasions, blood tests require removal from a specific artery. The skin around the collection area is swabbed with an antibacterial antiseptic, and an elastic band is tied around the upper arm.
The elastic band acts as a tourniquet, to reduce the blood circulation in the arm and causing the veins to expand and appear more visible. After the patient makes a tight fist with the arm to be used, the technician feels for the veins more visible to the skin surface in order to select the best one.
Once the vein is selected, a needle is inserted into the vein and the technician releases the elastic band to allow full circulation of blood once again. The proper amount of blood is collected, the needle is withdrawn from the vein and a cotton ball is applied to cover the puncture area to prevent unnecessary blood loss.
Some tests call for only a very small amount of blood for testing and analysis. In such cases the technician may use what is called a finger stick. A very small needle makes a tiny puncture in the skin of the fingertip, and a miniscule portion of blood is collected in a thin glass tube.
This is a similar procedure that many type II diabetics use to test their blood every day, except for the fact that they use test strips and a hand held meter to test glucose levels in their blood.
The organizations or bodies, which provide phlebotomy certification for this profession, are:
American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians
PO Box 1831,
Hickory, NC 28603
Tel: (828) 294-0078
The society promotes the understanding that true professionalism in this field, begins with the certification process. The association was founded in 1983, and is very active in testing and certification for members.
American Society for Clinical Pathology
33 West Monroe Street, Suite 1600
Chicago, IL 60603
Tel: (312) 541-4999
This organization boasts the world’s largest professional membership group of at least 100,000 members, for lab professionals and pathologists, since 1922.
National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
5600 N. River Rd. – Suite 720
Rosemont, IL 60018-5119
Tel: (847) 939-3597
The NAACLS website lists over 60 accredited, phlebotomy training and certification programs throughout the United States, at everything from hospitals to colleges.
National Phlebotomy Association
1901 Brightseat Road
Landover, MD 20785
Tel: (301) 386-4200
The National Phlebotomy Association (NPA) was enacted to create the specialty industry in approximately 1977-1978 in Washington, DC. By providing a certification and an examination in this field, the highest standards are maintained. There is also a national registry maintained for all members who successfully finish the certification process.
The NPA has certified well over 14,500 phlebotomists in every state in America, including the countries of Canada, as well as Switzerland. There are at least 80 accredited teaching programs in many universities, health care training facilities, and renowned hospitals and clinics throughout the nation.
The phlebotomy certification examination offered by the NPA is given in two-parts. The written examination is the first part and must be completed in a maximum of 2 hours. The practical portion is the second part and must be completed in 1 hour. A total of three hours is allowed to complete the entire examination.
Certification and Requirements
All applicants requesting admission to an NPA accredited, Phlebotomy Training Program must have either a high school diploma or a G.E.D. (General Equivalency Diploma). All applicants must be at least 18 years of age.
Any international students, who have graduated from a secondary educational institution outside of the U.S., must provide a High School Equivalency certification from the United States, D.O.Ed.
As you can see, the obstacles to entry into this profession are very few and there are many phlebotomy jobs that await you. The rewards for attaining phlebotomy certification are many and long-lived.