A Phlebotomy Certificate: Your Stepping Stone to Healthcare Opportunities
It’s simple—after you earn your degree, you want a job. If you’re like most people you want one fairly quickly and it’d be nice if the job had promotion potential or could lead to other jobs, too. For those goals, healthcare is the perfect place to start.
Healthcare jobs are abundant, both in quantity and type of job. Entry-level healthcare jobs abound, and you could jump into any number of them in two years or less. One option for getting your feet wet in the world of healthcare is to earn a certificate first. Specifically, a phlebotomy certificate can be the stepping stone you need to other healthcare jobs.
Phlebotomy is most often associated with drawing blood, of course, but there’s more to it than that. Earning a phlebotomy certificate can start you on the path towards other exciting healthcare careers like becoming a medical lab technician (MLT) or a registered nurse (RN). Here’s where you start:
Earning a phlebotomy certificate
Before you consider where a phlebotomy certificate can take you, you should know what goes into earning a certificate—and being a phlebotomist.
The curriculum for certificates is extremely focused on your area of study. For phlebotomy, that means a focus on drawing blood, diagnostic testing, professional communication and the fundamentals of healthcare. Knowledge in those areas can help a phlebotomist perform their job duties, which include drawing blood from patients or blood donors, labeling blood and maintaining medical instruments and test tubes.
Although many states require phlebotomists to be licensed, they usually don’t have to be certified. It can help jobseekers stand out, though.
Tammy Renner, MLT program director at Rasmussen College, worked at a hospital and was charged with hiring and managing phlebotomists. She favored candidates who were certified because she found phlebotomists-in-training were often nervous and would shake when holding a needle.
“If I got an applicant that had national phlebotomy certification, that told me they had some formal training,” Renner says. “So those first day jitters of just sticking a needle in someone’s arm are completely gone.”
Paths you can take with a phlebotomy certificate
After you’ve worked as a phlebotomist you’ll likely have a sense of what you like or dislike about the job and you’ll have a better idea of what other healthcare jobs are out there. For example, if you enjoy the direct patient communication part of the job and want to have even more patient contact, becoming a medical assistant (MA), RN or licensed practical nurse (LPN) might be the way to go. And if you decide you’d rather be more behind-the-scenes, becoming an MLT might work best for you.
Here’s how a phlebotomy certificate—and a little extra education—can help you out in these healthcare jobs.
From phlebotomy certificate to medical lab technician
Phlebotomists aren’t the only healthcare professionals who draw blood. Small health clinics or doctor’s offices may not have the budget for both an MLT and a phlebotomist. MLTs have a larger range of duties, one of which is drawing blood, so they might be hired over a phlebotomist in that scenario.
Renner says that some phlebotomists in her hospital lab eventually decided they wanted to be able to analyze the blood they drew and find out what was wrong with patients, so they went on to become MLTs.
From phlebotomy certificate to medical assistant
Depending upon the medical setting, MAs often take on both clinical and administrative work.In fact, MAs can do a lot of things, from patient injections to measuring vital signs, but they’re only able to draw blood if the state in which they’re employed allows it. Having a phlebotomy certificate, however, means that they can draw blood and thus become a more valuable employee in a small practice because they’re able to complete more tasks that are crucial to a medical practice.
From phlebotomy certificate to RN or LPN
Martin A. Ginsburg, paralegal nurse consultant at MarGin Consulting, earned a phlebotomy certificate before becoming an LPN and eventually an RN. Ginsburg always knew nursing was his career goal, but thought phlebotomy would help ease the transition.
“Phlebotomy was a great starting place,” he says. “I learned about lab values in a way most nurses take years to catch on to, became familiar with the way a hospital works and met mentors for later on in my education.”
The bottom line
You’re earning your phlebotomy certificate with your eventual career in mind, so it’s natural to consider all the opportunities that certificate can provide. It goes without saying that many professionals enjoy being a phlebotomist and don’t want to move on to other healthcare positions. If you fall into that group, then congratulations, you’ll have a job you love! But if you want to move on to other healthcare positions, you’ll be able to do that, too.
If you’re still on the fence about a healthcare career, learning more about your options can help. Check out Rasmussen College’s Healthcare Career Outlook eBook to learn all about the healthcare jobs you could have.