What Is Phlebotomy? A Full Guide & Phlebotomy Practice Test
A job as a phlebotomist may be right for you if you want to start a career in medicine but want to start with a low-barrier-to-entry position. This field requires less than a year of training and provides you with some of the foundational skills that you may eventually use in other healthcare positions.
Understanding what a phlebotomist performs, the educational requirements, the skills required for the job, and the way to prepare for the exam with the phlebotomy practice test will help you determine if it’s right for you.
In this post, we’ll go over what a phlebotomist is, what it takes to become one, the career outlook for the position, and which qualifications you should pursue to be competitive for opportunities.
What Is Phlebotomy?
You may not be aware of the term “phlebotomist,” but you have most likely used one’s services. “The person who draws blood,” you may have said. A phlebotomist does exactly that, but there’s more to this work than meets the eye.
In summary, the process of drawing blood from patients or blood donors is known as Phlebotomy. A phlebotomist is a medical worker who performs these treatments.
Hospitals, testing laboratories, clinics, and blood donation facilities all need phlebotomists. By obtaining blood specimens, they help clinicians appropriately detect diseases.
What is the Phlebotomy history?
Phlebotomy is derived from the Greek words “phleps,” which means “vein,” and “tomia,” which means “cutting.” The art of bloodletting was taught to early phlebotomists. Leeches were also used for the same purpose.
Bloodletting has been practiced by humans for thousands of years. The Egyptians started it, and it spread to the Greeks and Romans before reaching Asia and Europe.
Many medical conditions, including headache, fever, loss of appetite, and digestive problems, were once treated using this method.
Because doctors occasionally drew significant volumes of blood, it was deemed controversial. This was the case with George Washington, the country’s first president. He felt unwell and developed a fever in 1799 after being outside in the snow. His physicians had to extract around 40% of his blood to treat him. The next night, he died.
Bloodletting has been shown to be an inefficient and, in some circumstances, hazardous therapy over time. It wasn’t as common as it previously was towards the late 19th century.
Phlebotomy is now exclusively used for medical testing and treating a few particular blood illnesses in Western culture.
What does a phlebotomist do?
A phlebotomist is a person who draws blood. Venipuncture, or extracting blood from a patient’s vein, is a phlebotomist’s primary responsibility.
Depending on the patient’s age, accessibility, and health status, a phlebotomist may get a capillary blood sample by a thumb or heel prick. Blood is taken for a variety of reasons, including metabolic panels, clotting testing, blood cell counts, transfusions, and blood donations.
A phlebotomist’s primary responsibilities include finding veins, applying and releasing tourniquets, and maintaining good hygiene.
- Greets patients and checks their medical records.
- Draws blood from people for testing or donating purposes.
- Patient data is entered into the medical computer system.
- Assembles the appropriate tools and equipment for processes.
- Ensures that blood collection containers are properly labeled.
- Blood samples are tracked using label identification.
- Maintains a supply and medical instrument inventory.
- Patients have explained the process of blood draws.
- Assists patients who are recovering or have symptoms.
How does the exam work?
There are roughly 150 questions on the National Certified Phlebotomy Technician Exam. The test taker’s overall score is not affected by 25 of these questions. The remaining 125 questions, on the other hand, do. The exam is timed as well. The exam must be completed in around three hours.
What will be covered in the exam?
The test has six topic areas, each of which covers a distinct aspect of phlebotomist education and training.
The following sections provide more information on each of these categories.
Problems and Correction
With only 14 questions, the Problems and Correction category is the shortest on the exam. The test taker’s knowledge of how to repair frequent mistakes, such as labeling a blood sample improperly or a patient getting health adverse effects from having their blood collected, will be assessed through questions in this area.
Test takers must also consider what to do if a patient has a medical condition that makes collecting blood samples more difficult.
Quality and Professional Issues
Around 20 of the exam’s questions are about Quality and Professional Issues. It focuses on the plethora of responsibilities, norms, and codes that phlebotomists must follow while on the job.
- The various laws dealing with what incidents report;
- patient confidentiality and records;
- AABB, CLIA, COLA, and CAP regulations;
- how to address highly specific job duties, such as collecting blood for paternity cases and caring for patients with special needs; and related responsibilities.
With 36 questions, Collections is the most comprehensive material category on the test. It focuses on the steps that phlebotomists must take before, during, and after collecting blood from a patient.
Test takers must demonstrate their understanding of each stage of the blood drawing process, as well as how to manage specimens in a laboratory environment and keep accurate records.
Infection Control and Safety
There are 21 questions about Infection Control and Safety in the exam. This component of the test tackles on-the-job hygiene and how to reduce the risk of infection and other risks, as the name indicates.
Questions will cover the following areas:
- How to sterilize and clean work environments and equipment after use
- Official regulations mandated by NFPA, MSDS, and OSHA
- What steps to take if the phlebotomist is exposed to contaminants
- How to deal with emergencies
- How to best use pieces of phlebotomy equipment
- Various safety measures to avoid risks to oneself and the patient.
Patient ID and Site Preparation
Patient ID and Site Preparation is one of the exam’s smallest topic areas, with only 17 questions altogether. The questions in this area are about extracting blood and recognizing patients. Test takers must understand how to appropriately prepare a patient for a blood draw, as well as how to engage with them before, during, and after the procedure.
Orders and Equipment Selection
Another of the test’s smaller sections is Orders and Equipment Selection. This section of the test, like the “Patient ID and Site Preparation” category, only has 17 questions.
This category covers everything a skilled phlebotomist needs to know about selecting, recognizing, and evaluating the numerous types of tools required for their job. Bandages, venipunctures, capillary punctures, anticoagulants, and additives are examples of such equipment.
What phlebotomy certificates are required?
The specific requirements for becoming a phlebotomist vary by state, but most companies want phlebotomists to have completed a certificate program that requires no more than a high school education to enter.
Depending on state standards and the length of the program, a phlebotomy certificate program might last anywhere from a few weeks to two years.
There are several recognized organizations, each with its own set of requirements and accreditation procedures. Here are several that provide phlebotomy training:
- AMT: American Medical Technologists
- ASCP BOC: American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification
- NCCT: National Center for Competency Testing
- NHA: National Healthcareer Association
Four states require further phlebotomy certifications in addition to a nondegree diploma or certification from a college or technical school:
- California needs a phlebotomy certificate to conduct phlebotomy in the state of California, according to the California Department of Public Health. Phlebotomy licensing in California is also divided into three degrees of skill.
- Louisiana requires professional clinical laboratory staff to be licensed by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners.
- Nevada needs a medical laboratory workers licensure certificate to conduct phlebotomy in the state of Nevada, according to the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health.
- Washington: To perform phlebotomy in the state of Washington, the Washington State Department of Health requires medical assistant/phlebotomist certification.
Is it hard to pass the phlebotomy exam?
If you get enough preparation, taking and passing the phlebotomy certification exam should not be too difficult for you.
The exam can have anything from 100 to 200 questions. The topic of these exams, however, will always be the same. Most organizations require that you answer 70% of the questions correctly to pass this exam. As a result, you’ll need to know specifics in order to obtain your phlebotomy certification from the organization you choose.
To take this test, some organizations will ask that you have completed a training program. These courses will provide you with the information and abilities you need to pass this exam. There are also free internet tools, including study guides and practice examinations, to help you prepare for the exam.
How to become a Phlebotomist?
The process of becoming a phlebotomist is simple. While some employers in some states may hire you as a phlebotomist without any qualifications, the majority of employers require certification, which can be obtained by finishing a short program.
After getting your initial certification, if you live or plan to work in California, Louisiana, Nevada, or Washington, you must follow their licensing requirements. To put it another way, you should perform the following steps to become a phlebotomist:
Step 1: Complete the Phlebotomist’s Education Requirements
- Obtain your high school diploma
Students must be 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate to enroll in a phlebotomy training program. Even jobs that don’t require phlebotomy training necessitate a high school diploma.
A phlebotomist will benefit from biological science classes. Take anatomy lessons if you can to learn more about how the human body works.
You can obtain your GED if you did not complete your high school diploma. For schools and jobs, this is a widely recognized equivalent.
Some individuals are hired and trained as phlebotomists on the job. Even if you have high school graduation, many offices that employ phlebotomists will not hire you for these roles.
- Find a school that offers phlebotomy training
The majority of phlebotomy colleges provide one-year curricula. Classes are generally held in a technical or community college.
If you look into the nearby community or technical colleges, you’ll almost certainly find one that offers a phlebotomy program. Online-only programs are not available since you require hands-on experience collecting blood; however, some may enable you to take non-lab hours online.
Evening classes are available in several programs. This is especially beneficial if you’re working on many projects at the same time.
- Check whether the phlebotomy school is accredited
The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences is the leading accrediting agency for phlebotomy. Because each state has slightly different educational requirements, this will ensure that your certification program will be useful wherever you go.
Accreditation for your program is essential. You’ll be able to study the finest practices in the field so that when you start working as a phlebotomist, you’ll be ready.
- Apply for a phlebotomy training program
You’ll need to submit an application, recommendation letters, transcripts, and a brief essay when applying to a phlebotomy training program. Your essay should explain why you want to be a phlebotomist in the program.
Certain programs may have additional requirements, but these are the ones you’ll need to finish your application.
Transcripts from your high school or GED equivalent will be required. It’s also a good idea to get recommendation letters from high school instructors, career counselors, or past and present jobs.
- Enroll in a phlebotomy training program that lasts 9 months to 2 years
Your training will provide you with an understanding of anatomy as well as blood collection, storage, and safety. You’ll also be performing a lot of laboratory work.
Your courses will teach you both biological and procedural understanding of how to correctly collect and store blood. This will assist you in becoming a phlebotomist.
Some programs can last much longer or much shorter. Examine each school’s program length to see which one best matches your schedule.
- Work for a total of 1,040 hours
Together with classroom training, programs should include a practicum. To fulfill your work experience hours, you may be needed to obtain an internship or apprenticeship.
Work experience hours are required to qualify for additional certification. While certification is not always necessary, it often leads to more chances and a higher salary.
You must also perform at least 100 successful venipunctures in addition to your professional experience. This demonstrates that you can effectively extract blood from humans.
Step 2: Obtaining Phlebotomist Certification and License
- Meet the requirements for the certification you desire
There are varied requirements to become a phlebotomist depending on the type of certification you want. Before you can become a certified phlebotomy technician, you must complete all of their standards.
The particular certification requirements vary, but the essentials usually include a high school diploma or GED, 20 hours of phlebotomy training, and a certificate of completion from an established phlebotomy training program.
A different organization sponsors each certification. Make sure that agency is the finest for getting your state’s license.
- Earn national certification
Although some states do not need phlebotomists to be licensed, all businesses will check for certification. Obtaining certification will assist you in obtaining employment and advancing your career.
As a phlebotomist, you may get the following certifications:
- Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)
- Phlebotomy Technician (ASCP)
- Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT)
- National Certified Phlebotomy Technician (NCPT)
A CPT is the industry standard and is available in five grades, each requiring extra punctures and hours of advanced training. ASCAP may be especially handy for laboratory workers. The RPT certification needs passing an exam, whereas the NCPT certification requires more job experience.
These certificates are sponsored by a number of organizations. The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences is one of these organizations.
- The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
- The American Society of Clinical Pathologists, American Association of Medical Personnel
- American Medical Technologists
- The American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals.
- If necessary, apply for the state license
A license exam is required in several states for lab technicians. Through the Secretary of State’s office, look up your state’s criteria at the business or licensing bureau.
Only California, Louisiana, Nevada, and Washington now require all phlebotomists to be licensed and certified. Certification, on the other hand, is usually a great career step.
Being certified and licensed helps you to provide superior credentials, may assist you to grow in your job, and shows that you’re eager to go above and beyond for your career.
Step 3: Look for a Phlebotomist Job
- Look for work in a hospital or medical office
Phlebotomists work in a variety of settings in the medical field. Blood is always needed in health care and medical offices, so this is a fantastic spot to start your career search.
You can begin your job hunt by going online. Look for medical or health care offices in your area.
Visiting certain local medical offices may also be beneficial. Even if they don’t have any opportunities, they might be able to refer you to others who do.
- Submit your application to hospitals and clinics in your area
Phlebotomists are on hand at these facilities to collect blood for testing and other purposes. These positions are frequently advertised on the hospital or clinic’s website.
Phlebotomists are always needed in hospitals. Typically, the first application procedure may be completed fully online.
Phlebotomists are also needed in clinics. They may need to test blood there or draw blood to send somewhere for further testing.
- Check your local blood donation clinics for openings
Certified phlebotomists may also be needed for plasma companies. Any offices that mostly deal with blood may be on the hunt for new phlebotomists.
The Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations are excellent places to start. They accept blood donations all around the country and are an excellent firm to deal with.
Blood donation clinics also accept a large amount of plasma. You may require further training or certification depending on the center.
What are some tips to help you ace the phlebotomy exam?
Tip 1: Don’t cram
It may be tempting to study for your written certification exam late at night, or perhaps all night. That’s not a good thing. Therefore, you shouldn’t sacrifice your sleep to squeeze in a few extra hours of studying.
Get 7-8 hours of decent, restful sleep by going to bed at a regular time. You should go into your test with a relaxed, alert, and renewed mindset. It is impossible to pass a test if you fall asleep in the middle of it. Also, staying well hydrated will help you perform better in the brain.
Concentration is tough for a fatigued mind. This causes you problems in two ways. To begin with, attempting to study when in this state is self-defeating. The knowledge cannot be adequately absorbed and retained by your mind. Second, being unable to concentrate on the exam because you are fatigued or drowsy can impede your ability to reason while answering questions.
Tip 2: Practice makes perfect
Take some practice examinations and study the outcomes if you can locate them. Practice exams are a fantastic way to uncover areas where you could be lacking or underprepared.
Even if you guessed correctly, keep track of the questions you guessed on and reread the information relevant to those questions. And, of course, review any information related to the questions you missed.
Tip 3: Highlight information
While studying, keep a variety of highlighters on hand. Highlight important information when you come across it, especially if it’s something you’re having trouble remembering.
For identifying and grouping information, use various colors and construct a color scheme. Using a range of colors will aid your memory in retrieving the information later.
Tip 4: Read out loud
Read the facts aloud to yourself while you evaluate your study materials. Combine this approach with the highlighting stated above. Make a point of reading aloud any information you highlight at least twice. Hearing the words out loud allows your mind to better absorb the information and build mental images of the subject.
Tip 5: Review
Avoid going over your study materials in the same order every time. As much as possible, change the information. When learning vocabulary, it’s typical to look at the word first and then try to give the definition. Try looking at a definition and figuring out which word it relates to the other way around.
In the same way, go over the questions again. After reading the answer to a question, attempt to formulate a question for it.
Tip 6: Create notecards
Make written notes on index cards of any highlighted content. Use one card for each item of data. Use the front and back of the card for vocabulary, writing the word on one side and the definition on the other.
The act of writing out the facts, like reading aloud, helps to reinforce it in your mind and develop a more full mental representation of the subject.
Tip 7: Test Day
Be ready for your test when the time comes. Make certain you know where the test will be given and how to get there. Arrive early if possible. Once you’ve arrived at the exam centre, go over the index cards you’ve prepared one more time.
What skills should phlebotomists acquire?
To be successful as a phlebotomist, you must possess the following skills:
Compassion: Patients who are scared of needles or having their blood drawn are frequently encountered by phlebotomists. To calm the patient’s worries, they must be empathetic and kind while executing their job.
Physical stamina: A phlebotomist often spends the majority of their day standing up. To take reliable blood samples, they require stamina to keep their energy and concentrate throughout the day.
Strong attention to detail: A phlebotomist’s job includes drawing the necessary vials of blood for the tests that physicians request, putting information into a system, labeling vials, and tracking them. They must be diligent in order to guarantee that the specimens are properly monitored and tagged for testing.
Hand-eye coordination: This skill is required to ensure that patients are as comfortable as possible while having blood taken, and a phlebotomist must be able to do it successfully on the first attempt.
Communication skills: A phlebotomist, like any other medical practitioner, must be able to listen intently to the directions of the laboratory technician, physician, and patient, as well as communicate messages about what they’re doing to the patient in a clear and concise manner.
Interpersonal skills: Phlebotomists require interpersonal skills in order to interact closely with patients and other members of their team. Possessing a cheerful attitude, empathy, and the capacity to motivate and encourage others are all part of it.
How long does it take to become a phlebotomist?
Depending on the study program and if a student pursues national certification, being a phlebotomist can take a year or less to complete. A few states also have various qualification requirements for employment, which could lengthen the process.
Depending on the school and program students participate in, education programs can take anywhere from eight weeks to less than a year to complete. Vocational school programs may be shorter, whereas community college programs may take longer. To acquire a certificate or diploma and find work, you must complete both the academic and clinical hours of the program.
National certification is not necessary in most cases; however, it might help you get work. Depending on how well-prepared a student is for the test and how motivated they are to obtain certification, this might take several months or longer.
However, there are usually time limits on how long a student may sit for national certification after completing a program.
Only a few states need certification, so a student may operate as a phlebotomist in less than a year, especially if they enroll in one of the faster-paced programs.
How much will the exam cost you?
Test takers can expect to spend an amount depending on how long they’ve been certified and under what circumstances they earned their initial certification.
The exam costs $90 for a phlebotomy student. Those who have previously completed a qualified educational program must pay $135 if taking the test more than six months after graduation, or $90 if taking the test within six months of graduation.
Phlebotomists in the military are paid $90 to test. A $135 registration fee is required of working phlebotomists.
What are the job prospects for phlebotomists, and how much does a phlebotomist make?
The career future for phlebotomists is bright, as there is a demand for them in most regions and plenty of predicted job growth over the next decade.
The national average wage for phlebotomists is $13.10 per hour as of June 5, 2021, based on 15,000 salaries reported to Indeed, with some phlebotomists earning more in larger cities and with more experience. Follow the link to Indeed Salaries for the most up-to-date wage information.
The estimated change in employment for phlebotomists from 2019 to 2029, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, is likely to increase 17%, which is substantially greater than the average 5% growth rate for all occupations.
New Hampshire: $22.12
New Jersey: $14.92
New Mexico: $13.73
New York: $19.79
North Carolina: $16.78
North Dakota: $11.25
Rhode Island: $12.77
South Carolina: $12.78
South Dakota: $12.25
West Virginia: $11.30
What kind of questions are on the phlebotomy test?
Questions on the following topics are common on phlebotomy certification exams:
- Obtaining Blood Samples
- Specimen Collection and Processing
- Special Collections
- Waived and Point-of-Care Testing (POCT)
- Time Management and Assignment Organization
- Professional Communications
- Clerical Skills and Duties
- Safety Standards and Procedures
- Infection Control
- Legal, Ethical, and Professional Considerations
- Terminology, Anatomy, and Physiology
- Problems and Correction
Can I study phlebotomy online?
You can now study at your own pace and on your own time to become a certified healthcare professional. TJC offers an ONLINE Phlebotomy Technician program that includes interactive learning modules, 24-hour mentorship, learning activities, laboratories, and a student portal with job information.
Is the phlebotomy national exam multiple choice?
Yes. Candidates have two hours to finish the exam, which contains 80 multiple-choice questions.
What score do you need to pass the NHA phlebotomy exam?
To pass the NHA CPT, a candidate must get a scaled score of 390 or higher.
How many questions are on the NHA CPT?
There are 100 questions in the NHA CPT exam (plus 20 pretest questions the NHA uses to gather data).
How many times can you take the NHA exam?
If you do not pass your exam on your first or second try, you must wait 30 days before taking it again. If you fail the exam on your third attempt, you must wait 12 months before taking it again. You must wait 12 months between attempts after your fourth.
Is the NHA exam the same as the practice test?
The exam’s test design is used to create NHA study aids and practice tests. While the test questions will differ from those in your study guide, the subjects covered and the weight given to each should be comparable.
What is the exam’s minimum passing score?
To pass the National Certified Phlebotomy Technician Exam, test takers do not need to achieve a set score. Rather, test takers’ results are compared to one another based on how well they understand basic phlebotomy concepts.
What is a phlebotomist’s working environment like?
Hospitals, nursing homes, clinical laboratories, blood donation centers, community health centers, and other healthcare settings employ phlebotomists. They frequently collaborate with a clinical laboratory technologist or another medical expert.
They frequently stand for extended periods of time and must exercise extreme caution when handling needles, blood, and other medical supplies. Some phlebotomists collect blood at patients’ homes or long-term care facilities. Phlebotomists who collect donations are frequently on the go, setting up mobile donation centers.
What are phlebotomists’ continuing education requirements?
Even after graduating from school and beginning employment in the field, phlebotomists can continue their studies. Phlebotomist I and Phlebotomist II are two job levels that are recognized in several places.
You can make yourself available for additional career options and accomplish more duties by furthering your education. Moving forward with more clinical training will also provide you with more practical experience and understanding in the field.
What is the difference between a certified phlebotomy technician and a phlebotomist?
There is a little difference between the two positions. The patient’s blood is collected by a phlebotomist. A phlebotomy technician, on the other hand, assists them, sterilizes tools, and conducts clerical tasks.
These job descriptions are similar in various workplaces. Both jobs may be active in bigger medical offices, though.
Is being a phlebotomist difficult?
Despite the fact that the training and education you get are difficult, we provide you with the tools and support you need to succeed. Phlebotomy is a hands-on patient care profession that involves bodily fluids and sickness. Phlebotomy can be more difficult than other employment options for persons who have difficulty with blood or disease.
How long is a phlebotomy certification?
The NHA states that certification renewal is required every two years and costs $169 at current time. To renew your certification, log into your account online, earn 10 continuing education credits, and pay the recertification cost.
Is it necessary for phlebotomists to be certified?
Phlebotomists are not required to be certified in some states to work. Many firms, however, will demand job seekers to have current certification before considering them for an open position.
Being a qualified phlebotomist can help you get a better career. If you are competing against someone with similar skills but are not appropriately qualified, the employer is likely to prefer the other candidate.
Is it a good job to be a Phlebotomist?
Phlebotomy is a terrific job for you if you want to be at the forefront of patient care and enjoy assisting physicians in solving medical puzzles. Phlebotomy technicians have more flexibility in terms of where they work and how they operate than other professions. Phlebotomy can also lead to new employment options in the medical area for those who want to advance their careers.
What is the most effective way to study for the exam?
Because the National Certified Phlebotomy Technician Exam covers a wide range of topics, test candidates will benefit from comprehensive study materials. We make every effort to give these types of tools to test takers who need them.
Test takers can find the study guide and the NHA phlebotomy practice test for the National Certified Phlebotomy Technician Exam on our website. Both of them are intended to make it easier for test takers to comprehend how the exam works and review the ideas covered on the exam.
For those who want to work directly with patients in a variety of health care settings, phlebotomy can be a rewarding career option. The medical business is always in need of talented individuals to execute these tasks, and it is one of the fastest-growing sectors.
You should be at ease and enjoy dealing with individuals of all ages, be a great communicator, and have a keen eye for detail. Phlebotomists must be able to enter and analyze data for specimens on a computer, as well as multitask, so they must be efficient and tech-savvy.
Becoming a phlebotomist is also a simple process that typically entails a brief educational program and one or more certifications, depending on your state.
Remember to read thoroughly our step-by-step guide to becoming a phlebotomist as well as check out our Phlebotomy practice test to ace the exam successfully.