Can Phlebotomy Courses Help Me Become a Nurse?

by Adam Capehart

Phlebotomy is the technique of drawing blood from a patient. In a hospital setting, nurses can perform phlebotomy procedures, but in many clinical or classroom settings, they are not directly taught this skill. As a phlebotomist, while your primary job will be different from a nurse, it is still a very a worthwhile profession in the medical field. For more detailed information on the phlebotomy profession and course work check out:

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What's the difference between a phlebotomist & nurse?

While both phlebotomists and nurses work with patients in a health care setting, phlebotomists really specialize in doing one thing: drawing blood, whereas nurses can do a wide range of things. This doesn’t mean it’s better be a nurse or better to be a phlebotomist, it just means that the scope of what a phlebotomist can do is more limited and specialized.

In addition to drawing blood, a phlebotomist will have other related tasks such as labeling tubes, preparing skin puncture sites to avoid infection etc. It’s also important to keep in mind that there are many different types of nurses as well, although the content on this pages focuses on Registered Nurses, or RNs.

Because a nurse can perform more procedures and tasks, typically their schooling is longer than the training to become a phlebotomist, although the actual length of time depends upon a number of factors. Those factors include the specific school that a person attends, as well as the rate at which they attend classes. 

RNs typically are in school for at least two years or possibly longer if a person wants to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, also known as a BSN. RNs also typically make twice that of phlebotomists.

What do phlebotomists make?

In certain instances phlebotomists can make up to $50,000 per year. These are highly sought after positions and are usually reserved for those that have been in the field for some time. Most new phlebotomists will make an average of $30,000 - $40,000 but keep in mind the cost of training and school will be drastically lower than that of nurses.

The job outlook for the future also looks bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects strong growth for most health care professions between 2010 and 2020. It anticipates a 15 percent increase in demand for clinical laboratory technicians, the group that includes phlebotomists.

The ASCP's annual vacancy survey for 2011, a companion study to the wage survey, reports a national vacancy rate of 7.89 percent for staff phlebotomists and 8.2 percent for supervisors. Those figures tell how much the profession must grow simply to meet current demand. In some regions, the vacancy rate is as high as 12.7 percent. This should translate into strong demand for phlebotomists for several years.

What will phlebotomy courses teach me?

Courses in phlebotomy will included:

  • Anatomy and physiology – This includes the circulatory, lymphatic, respiratory, urinary, and muscular and skeletal systems.
  • Blood and cell composition – Understanding how blood and cells are affected by infection and disease is at the crux of the phlebotomy field.
  • Blood sampling procedures – Venipuncture, or vein puncture, is handled differently for different people. Newborns, children, adults and the elderly all have veins that require different techniques.
  • Laboratory safety – Understanding how to safely handle lab equipment and clean up spills are key in keeping yourself and your co-workers protected from infection and physical harm.
  • CPR – Lots of things can happen on the job. Being prepared with a CPR certification is a good idea. More phlebotomy courses are including CPR training in their curriculum.
  • You will usually have hands on training regarding the order of draw procedure, and specimen handling techniques. 

Is It Right For You?

Phlebotomy is a useful skill regardless if you decide to further your education and become a nurse. They are respected in the medical community. 

If you are looking to break into the medical field and do not have an idea of where to begin, phlebotomy can be an excellent choice. It will benefit you if you decide to continue your pursuit to becoming and RN by teaching you a valuable skill in the process. 

Since phlebotomy courses can range in price and time required and it is best to look into programs in your area. Most community colleges offer some kind of phlebotomy training and would be a good place to start your search. 

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