What Courses Do You Need to Take to Become a Phlebotomist?
Growth Trends for Related Jobs
Phlebotomists are the allied health professionals who take blood samples and ensure the samples get to the right lab at the proper time. Phlebotomists must have formal training to work in the industry because they deal with a medical procedure which involves bodily fluids and can cause pain if done improperly. Most phlebotomy training incorporates the same fundamental courses.
Anatomy and Biology
Courses in biology and anatomy give you a basic idea of how the body develops, works and is influenced by internal and external factors. This is necessary to understand when, where and how to draw blood for the best results. In some programs, these courses are treated as refreshers, as biology and anatomy usually are taught in high school and are offered at most colleges.
Physiology of Circulation
As a phlebotomist, the majority of your work will involve working with the circulatory system. This course explores the circulatory system in depth, including its connection to all other major systems in the body. Through this course, you learn exactly how blood flows through the body.
Introduction to Phlebotomy
The introduction to phlebotomy class gives you your first glimpse at phlebotomy principles and techniques. This is primarily a theory-based class in which you learn the fundamentals of what phlebotomy involves, how to stay safe on the job and how to do both venipuncture and dermal procedures. Depending on the program, your instructor may have you and your classmates do your first practice phlebotomy procedures on each other.
The phlebotomy techniques course builds on what you learn in your introductory phlebotomy course. This course gives you more practice with phlebotomy procedures and discusses how those techniques are evolving and applied in the modern clinical setting. By the end of this course, you should be fairly comfortable doing venipuncture and similar phlebotomy tasks.
Medical and Safety Courses
There are two primary medical courses phlebotomists take. The first is medical terminology. Phlebotomists need this course to make sense of what nurses and doctors may need to do with patients and what conditions the phlebotomy patient has. The second course is medical ethics. As a medical professional, you are expected to protect your patients' privacy and act in their best interest. You also are expected to adhere to safety, sanitation and medical regulations. A separate safety course covers how to properly handle and dispose of needles, keep the draw area sanitary, what to do after an accidental needle prick and how to protect yourself from the threat of disease. Many programs also include CPR.
Your practicum may be one, two or three separate courses. Regardless of how many courses are involved, the practicum is where you practice your skills hands-on with real patients. Once you complete your practicum, you generally either graduate from your program or receive certification, depending on how the program is structured and whether your program is accredited.
Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website, Takingdictation.com, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.