How to Hire Phlebotomists: Job Skills
By: John Rossheim
Are you looking to hire phlebotomists? The fundamental responsibility of phlebotomy technicians are simple: to safely draw and enter blood into a laboratory system, with minimum patient upset. But to recruit top phlebotomists, you need to understand more about this multi-faceted profession. Here's the scoop.
Phlebotomist Licensing, Certifications and Training:
- In many states, phlebotomists must complete a post-secondary certification program before starting work; other states have no requirements
- Even in states with no mandated certification, most employers require it
- Phlebotomy training programs are offered by community colleges, vocational or technical schools, and some certifying organizations
- Certifications for phlebotomy technicians can be obtained from the American Society for Phlebotomy Technicians, the National Center for Competency Testing, the American Society for Clinical Pathology, and the American Medical Technologists
- Certification typically requires classroom training, clinical rotations and an exam
- Some employers encourage or mandate continuing education on topics such as venipuncture, universal health and safety precautions, specimen rejections, performing difficult draws, order of draw, problem-solving and communication, and legal issues.
- “Nearly all employers require certification or equivalent training,” says Phil Svehla, president of Phlebotek, a Florida staffing firm specializing in phlebotomy technicians.
- Training doesn't equate with certification. “There are phlebotomy training programs all over -- but how good are they?,” says Helen Maxwell, executive director of the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians. “There’s an unwritten law that employers prefer certification.”
Key Phlebotomist Job Skills:
- Draw blood from diverse patients populations, including children, elderly people and those with psychiatric diseases
- Reassure anxious patients and blood donors
- Maintain an organized work space and workflow
- Follow health and safety procedures to the letter
- Some phlebotomists may be called on to perform tests such as urinalysis for insurance applicants, electrocardiograms and point-of-care blood work
- “We like to see that candidates have confidence, they know what they’re doing, and they’re very caring, personable,” says Svehla. “When you’re about to hold out your arm for a stick, you want someone who makes you feel comfortable.”
- “For safety, you must follow procedures -- for example, putting needles directly into the sharps container,” says Svehla.
- "They have to be organized,” says Maxwell. “Everything has to be done very meticulously. Our national exam has two parts, one written and one practical. More people fail the practical -- because, for example, they don’t check the patient’s identification.”
Key Phlebotomist Experience:
- Most employers seeks phlebotomists with a year or two of work experience
- Some providers want professionals with experience in a particular care setting
- Some employers prefer to train phlebotomists themselves, so they require no work experience
- “Probably 80 percent of employers want experience, typically at least a year,” says Maxwell.
- “The experience requirement for a given opening depends on the type of patient,” says Svehla. “In nursing homes, for example, there are usually difficult sticks and the interaction is often very challenging.”