Posted by staff on November 7, 2013
A phlebotomy license allows you to draw blood from patients for specimen analysis, medical and laboratory testing, transfusions and blood donations. Phlebotomists are trained and skilled healthcare professionals who are responsible for a very important function in the medical field today. The phlebotomist is responsible for their own safety and the safety of their patients. It is very surprising that with this type of responsibilities that certification is not required everywhere in the United States. At this time only California and Louisiana require certification. Even if your state does not require certification, many employers still require it.
In general there is only one level of phlebotomy certification available. However, in California there are three professional levels. A limited phlebotomist is only authorized to perform skin puncture blood collections. In the second level, a certified Phlebotomy Technician 1, the phlebotomist is authorized to perform venipuncture and skin puncture collections. The third level and most advanced level of certification, the certified Phlebotomy Technician II, is authorized to perform venipuncture, skin and arterial punctures.
Certification does not automatically occur upon the completion of a phlebotomy program, however many programs offer certification testing upon graduation. Certified graduates of a phlebotomy program have successfully completed both the phlebotomy training program and passed the certification exam. The programs that offer certification must be approved or accredited by either the state or nationally.
An accredited program will offer both classroom and clinical instruction and meet the high standards of the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI). Some of the organizations responsible for accrediting phlebotomy programs are the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) and the National Phlebotomy Association (NPA). When you are looking for a phlebotomy program it is wise to find one that is accredited and offers certification.
The NAACLS has a website that offers a database of accredited programs by state along with contact information for each school.
Although it is not required in every state, it is still wise to have certification. The various state laws could change at any time and most reputable employers prefer their phlebotomists to be certified. The opportunity for certification is available to every trained or practicing phlebotomist. Certification conveys that the phlebotomist is fully trained and knowledgeable of the safety and procedure standards set forth by the CLSI.
Phlebotomy Certification Exam
You can receive certification through five major agencies which offer nationally recognized certification. Applications to take the certification exams can be found and submitted online at the agencies websites. One agency, The American Certification Agency (ACA) for Healthcare Professionals. offers two certifications for phlebotomy, phlebotomy technician and phlebotomy instructor. The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) also has two types of certification available, phlebotomy technician and donor phlebotomist. The American Medical Technologists (AMT) and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) both offer certifications for phlebotomists and accredited phlebotomy training programs.
Though most of these certification programs have similarities, the requirements with each certifying agency varies. Typically a person who is interested in being a phlebotomist will take a an accredited phlebotomy program, however it is possible to take the certification exam after having hands-on experience as a phlebotomist. It is generally an easier route to take the accredited course as most employers do not have the time or energy to train you so you may not be hired without having the certification first. If you have not taken a course you must generally provide documented proof of full-time experience ( a year or more) and documented proof of successful blood collections, with the requirement for how many collections, varying between the agencies.