Becoming a Phlebotomist in Washington State
What is it like to work as a phlebotomist? Phlebotomists work in hospitals, doctor’s offices and donor centers performing venipunctures to collect blood specimens for diagnostic testing. However, you might be surprised to hear that the job entails much more than collecting blood.
As the laboratory professionals who have the most contact with patients, phlebotomists also need to be able to instruct them on the collection of various fluids for testing, such as urine, stool and sputum. The phlebotomist is also the person who receives, validates and labels the specimens once they are collected. As such, it will be necessary for those performing these tasks to be well-versed in the various aspects of testing, especially those that pertain to specimen integrity.
Phlebotomists typically work long hours, often in the early morning, and it is not unusual to find a phlebotomist who works off-shifts, weekends and holidays. The job requires a high level of physical stamina, especially for hospital inpatient phlebotomists who spend their days moving from ward to ward, carrying or pushing a cart full of supplies. Phlebotomists will also need to project a compassionate and friendly demeanor, as patients are often anxious about the tests being performed. It is not uncommon for a patient to lose consciousness during the procedure due to stress or illness, and the phlebotomist will need to know how to respond in an emergency.
Phlebotomy Licensing in Washington
Washington is one of the few states where licensing is required for phlebotomists. The Medical Assistant-Phlebotomist license will require the successful completion of a phlebotomy training program, for which a high school diploma or equivalent is a prerequisite. Applicants will need to have completed a seven-hour course in HIV/AIDS and be able to read, write and converse in English.
Washington Training Programs for Phlebotomists
There are many appropriate training programs for phlebotomists in Washington, which are available throughout the state. A few of these include:
- Skagit Community College offers both a certificate and an Associate in Applied Science in Medical Assisting. Students will learn the basics of record-keeping, secretarial skills and medical transcription, along with hands-on skills like specimen collection, CPR and taking vital signs.
- Renton Technical College offers a Medical Assistant-Phlebotomy course. Students will learn anatomy and physiology, medical terminology and specimen collection.
- Yakima Valley College offers a certificate in Phlebotomy. The program takes two semesters to complete with labs available at both the Grandview and Yakima campuses.
It will be necessary to obtain certification to work as a phlebotomist in the state of Washington. One popular choice for accreditation in the field is the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). To achieve certification, you will need to take and pass an examination, at the cost of $135.
Salary Projections for Phlebotomists in Washington
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Washington is among the top five highest-paid states in the nation for phlebotomists. The website reported an average annual salary of $41,380 in 2019, well above the national average of $35,510 for this field. Those at the lower end of the scale reported yearly earnings of $35,430, making even entry-level positions on par with the average mean wage nationwide.
A Career in Washington as a Phlebotomist
Once you have completed your training, certification and state licensure, you will be ready to seek employment opportunities. In Washington, a few of the potential employers for phlebotomists include Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp, Virginia Mason Memorial, Sea Mar Community Health Centers, PeaceHealth, UW Medicine and MultiCare Health System. Wherever you choose to start your career as a phlebotomist, you should enjoy working in this challenging and fulfilling field.