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Nobody likes getting stuck with a needle. But a good phlebotomy technician, also called a PBT, can make a big difference. Phlebotomy technicians take blood for donations or medical testing and also prepare samples for laboratory use. It is a technical specialty, but one that requires excellent people skills. The designation "ASCP" means the phlebotomy technician has been certified by the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the world's largest professional organization for pathologists and medical laboratory technicians.
Phlebotomy technicians, also known as phlebotomists, are responsible for the collection and handling of blood samples. The workplace could be a doctor's office, medical lab, clinic, blood bank or an ongoing round of temporary blood-donor locations. Because blood is a potential biohazard, phlebotomy technicians must be mindful at all times to follow correct procedures for cleaning the donor site, maintaining sterile equipment and handling samples. Patients often have unpredictable reactions to needles, so the ability to take blood pressure and administer CPR is also valued. This is also why phlebotomy technicians try to cultivate a soothing, reassuring professional persona.
Training and Professional Certification
Formal training is not always necessary in phlebotomy, though it is valued. Most technicians take at least a short certificate program to learn the basics, while others will obtain an associate degree or even a bachelor's degree with a related concentration. Clinical experience is also important, given that phlebotomy is a hands-on skill. A budding technician with some degree of clinical experience and formal training may work in the field right away, but more demanding workplaces will expect credentials from a recognized certification program.
The ASCP and Certification
The American Society for Clinical Pathology offers certification in a number of laboratory specializations, including phlebotomy. Because "phlebotomy technician" is a fairly generic term, the credential is usually given as PBT (ASCP) to indicate that the technician in question has met the ASCP's stringent requirements for certification. There are several routes to this certification. The simplest is completion of a phlebotomy training program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. But many other combinations of phlebotomy training, clinical experience and other credentials will also serve the purpose.
Other Agencies and Credentials
The ASCP is not the only agency to certify phlebotomy technicians. Others include the American Medical Technologists, which offer a registered phlebotomy technician, or RPT, credential; the National Center for Competency Testing, which offers the national certified phlebotomy technician, or NCPT, credential; and the National Healthcareer Association, which offers a certified phlebotomy technician, or CPT, credential. A former certifying agency, the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel, has recently merged with the ASCP. The ASCP itself offers a second certification in donor phlebotomy for trained phlebotomists who wish to specialize in blood donor clinics.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.