While some people get into phlebotomy via an entry-level position, many want to establish a long career in the industry. Nurses, and even doctors have started out in the phlebotomy field. But, for as quick and simple as it may be to start out, it doesn’t end there. So, what are the continuing education requirements for phlebotomists?
As we take a closer look at those continued requirements, it’s a good idea to understand why they are important. The main reason is advancement opportunities. Not only is continued education required in many cases, but it’s one of the only things that can help get you promoted.
Finally, continuing education is important for the overall safety and preparedness. Think about it this way – you wouldn’t want a doctor operating on you who hadn’t taken a course on that procedure in ten years, right?
Though they may not have as many duties as a doctor, phlebotomists play an important role in the healthcare system. They are often one of the first faces people see if they need to get blood drawn for any reason. So, continued education for phlebotomists isn’t just a requirement to stay ‘fresh.’ It’s a requirement, to ensure that people receive high quality health care experience.
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Continuing Education Requirements for Phlebotomists
Throughout the country, continuing education, or ‘CE’ credits must be obtained regularly by phlebotomists. Keep in mind that these credits are not for those going into phlebotomy for the first time. They do not replace the weeks of training and certification required to become a phlebotomist in the first place.
With that in mind, there’s a difference between continued education, and renewal of certification. In many cases, phlebotomists will be required to obtain at least six credits of additional training each year – some states, such as Oregon, require more. So, be sure to check out your state requirements.
If you are currently certified, the National Phlebotomy Association (NPA) requires that certification to be renewed each year. Unfortunately, that isn’t as simple as signing your name to a renewal slip. Renewing your certification requires more coursework, and another exam. You may think this sounds like a bit much, especially every single year. But again, phlebotomists have an important job, and deal with people and bloodwork on a daily basis. Making sure the latest techniques are practiced is something the NPA doesn’t take chances on.
How to Partake in Continuing Education
The good news here is that wherever you initially trained to be a phlebotomist is likely to have some kind of CE program. If you can get into the same school/program, you’ll be one step ahead. This is especially true when it comes to renewing your certification, since you’ll already know the process.
Another ‘bonus’ to continued education in phlebotomy? There are courses available that can offer you different areas of expertise. Some courses are required, of course, and they’ll cover the basic techniques again. There is absolutely nothing wrong with refresher courses like these, especially as technology continues to change and advance.
However, continued education can also be a factor in going out of your way to learn something new. For example, ‘advanced phlebotomy’ is becoming a more popular option for phlebotomists continuing their education. It looks at different techniques when it comes to drawing blood. It can also focus on more advanced lab studies, or specific medical areas like trauma, or geriatrics. If you’re currently a phlebotomist looking for a specialization, continuing education in your field can be a great way to get started.
Most continuing education courses are, as you might expect, much shorter than your initial training. In fact, some can take as little as three days, depending on the type of training you’re looking at. Additional certification, of course, may take a bit longer.
Benefits of Continuing Education
As stated above, there are plenty of reasons to continue your education. Not only is it a requirement, but it can help you out in many ways. You wouldn’t get a promotion in your job without putting in a bit of extra work, right? Well, think of phlebotomy in the same way; the extra education you receive can move you ahead in every sense of the word.
Again, it is an entry-level career. Some people are happy to take an eight-week course, become a phlebotomy technician, and have that be their career for the rest of their lives. It can be extremely rewarding, especially when you get to work with different people everyday. However, phlebotomy is such a ‘hot’ career right now because of the advancements available.
Starting out as a technician means you’ll be working with people on a daily basis to draw blood. You’ll also have to make sure that blood gets transferred to the lab, know basic lab procedures, etc. However, continued education provides additional opportunities for growth. These positions usually include management of some sort, or becoming a phlebotomy specialist.
Specialists typically focus on one specific area, either collections or patient services. Of course, becoming a specialist or putting yourself into a management position requires several additional certifications (more training). It also takes years of experience, so don’t feel as though you need to complete a ton of continued education up front. Not only do management and specialized positions come with more responsibilities, but they come with considerably higher wages.
Many people use it as a way to get their foot in the door of the medical field. Some of the most common career advancements and shifts from phlebotomy are; nursing, and medical lab technicians.
To obtain a nursing degree while working as a phlebotomist, you can continue your education through hybrid, or even online courses. You’ll need to obtain a diploma from a nursing program, too – either two years, or four years.
Becoming a medical lab technician can be a perfect fit for phlebotomists who want to continue their education. As a phlebotomist, you’ll have experience in lab work already. Becoming an MLT capitalizes on that with an increase in salary and responsibility. It starts with a MLT training program, and moves forward to require at least an associate’s degree, to start. MLT education and training can be expensive (about $15,000) in comparison to phlebotomy training, but it’s a great career advancement opportunity.
Believe it or not, some doctors even start out as phlebotomy technicians. Granted, the continued education requirements to become a physician are far greater than lab techs, or even nurses. However, some hospitals will actually assist you in paying for your continued education if you stay on board with them. If you’re currently working in a hospital or clinic, find out what sort of ‘aid’ your employer might offer for you to continue your education, and advance your career.
Why Should Phlebotomists Continue Their Education?
Advancements in job opportunities, increases in pay, and generally more knowledge about phlebotomy are all popular reasons to continue your education in the phlebotomy field. Even though it’s an entry position, many people get into the field with the desire to help people. So, advancing their careers, or even just learning more, is as rewarding as it is required.
Phlebotomists have the advantage of really seeing a lot, and knowing a lot about a hospital or clinic. They get to work with a wide variety of different people. Not just patients, but doctors, nurses, and lab techs, too. They also get to experience a bit of ‘lab’ culture, they know safety procedures, terminology, etc. They get to see sides of a hospital or clinic that not everyone gets to see.
It can help phlebotomists to really decide what they want, especially if they’re drawn toward a certain field of practice. With that, it’s a job that can be inspiring for those who want to move ahead in the medical field, and do more. Whether that means moving up to a managerial position, becoming a physician, or anything in between – continued education is required.
The continuing education requirements for phlebotomists are greatly dependent on your actual goals. Whether you want to grow your salary, your career opportunities, or your career as another position in the medical field, continued education options are the way to go. With just a bit of extra time and money, your career can be as advanced as you’d like it to be. There may be no better way to start off a career in medicine.