Drawing blood is one of those things that you want done right. A well-trained and skilled phlebotomist will know how to get it done quickly, safely and with minimal discomfort. Even more importantly, a properly conducted blood test is often critical for a patient diagnosis.
“A good phlebotomist will get quick and accurate test results,” said Phlebotomist Nick French, who works at NorthCrest Medical Center in Springfield. “A great phlebotomist combines that with customer service. You have to build trust in the first 15 seconds with a patient. They have to have confidence in you to let them draw your blood.”
French is teaching a new eight-week phlebotomy certificate program at Volunteer State Community College that can help people get into the health care field quickly. The course prepares students to sit for the NHA (National Healthcareer Association) certification.
“People with no health care experience at all can come to this course and leave prepared. We draw blood starting on the first day of class,” said French. We work to make sure they’re confident when they go into a clinical rotation.”
Those clinical experiences, which are part of the Phlebotomy program, place the students in hospital and clinics to put their skills to work. For some people the program can be the start to a medical career and for others it can be a step towards advancement.
“I’m already a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). Phlebotomy is a stepping stone for me. I’m going for my RN (Registered Nurse) and then I want to be a pediatric nurse,” said phlebotomy student Christi Kelley of Hendersonville.
“It’s a big responsibility,” said student Kelly Holder of Hartsville. “You don’t want to hurt anyone. You want to do it right. If you mess up the test, the patient could get the wrong care.”
“You have to be personable to be a good phlebotomist,” said French. “You should be okay with the sight of blood. You have to have an interest in health care and helping people.
The Phlebotomy course is organized by the Vol State Health Sciences Center of Emphasis. While it is not part of the Health Sciences academic programs at the college and does not garner college credit, it is taken by students at Vol State to help build their blood drawing skills.
This is just one of several career health care programs offered through a collaborative called Rx Tennessee. All of the programs are designed for quick entry into the health care field. The next phlebotomy class begins on April 26 and registration is open now. Other phlebotomy courses will follow later in the year.
The entire eight weeks of class and two-three weeks of clinical placement costs $795, which includes the textbook, lab supplies, basic life support training and 2 sets of scrubs. There are additional costs for pre-clinical requirements (including a background check, drug screen, immunizations and liability insurance) and the certification exam.
Additionally, the phlebotomy program is one program in a series that can lead to an additional certification: CCMA (Certified Clinical Medical Assistant). That is a combination of phlebotomy, combined with EKG tech and Patient Care Tech, both of which Vol State will be offering in the coming year.