Do you dream of a rewarding career in the flourishing healthcare industry? Becoming a certified phlebotomy technician is one of the best ways to break into this field. Not only is this an essential role in the healthcare system, but phlebotomy jobs are projected to increase by a whopping 24.3% over the next ten years!
If you hope to become a certified phlebotomy technician, you'll need to pass the phlebotomy national exam, otherwise known as the National Healthcare Association's (NHA) Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT). This certification is accepted by employers across the United States, and is held in high esteem within the medical community.
But this isn't the type of exam you can cram for overnight—in order to pass the NHA CPT exam, you will need to be very well-prepared. In this blog post, we will provide you with everything you'll need to know in order to prepare for your phlebotomy license exam, so be sure to read from top to bottom.
Like any skilled job in the healthcare industry, phlebotomy requires certification to demonstrate that practitioners have the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their roles. The Phlebotomy Technician Exam is a comprehensive exam administered by the NHA, which tests individuals on their phlebotomy knowledge and skills.
The NHA CPT exam is composed of 120 questions, 20 of which are used as "test" questions to gather data for future exams. There are five total sections for which you have two hours to complete.
If you haven't already done so, you first need to finish high school or obtain a GED certificate. This is a fairly standard requirement for most skilled professions within the healthcare industry.
Before registering for the phlebotomy national exam, you'll need to complete a training program at an accredited institution. In addition to your training, you'll need to demonstrate relevant work experience in a health services field approved by the NHA for a minimum of one year within the last three years.
Your training will qualify if you received formal medical training in a healthcare field while in the military within the last five years. This training will also require relevant work experience.
All applicants must also demonstrate evidence of at least 30 venipunctures and 10 capillary sticks on live patients.
If you're wondering how to pass the phlebotomy exam, you need to start by knowing what it covers. The NHA-certified phlebotomy technician exam is structured uniquely compared to other exams. Here's what you need to know.
The exam contained two categories of statements that you'll need to be familiar with. The first category is knowledge statements, or information relevant to the industry and job description that you'll need to master to complete the job successfully.
The second category is task statements, which refer to the actions and duties you must know how to perform to succeed as a phlebotomy technician.
1 . Safety and Compliance
The first section will focus on safety and compliance. This first section covers critical information that all phlebotomists must know to protect themselves and their patients and ensure they are working within the bounds of the law.
Some of the topics you can expect to see on this portion of the exam include:
Safety precautions to prevent the spread of illness
Performing first aid
Local, state, and federal regulations
You'll encounter a total of 15 knowledge statements and 14 task statements related to safety and compliance for this section.
2. Patient Preparation
The second section is all about prepping your patients prior to performing a procedure. This section covers another critical component of phlebotomy, as the technician must take care to ensure the patient is comfortable and adequately prepared for their procedure.
Topics you can expect to see on this portion of the exam include:
Communicating procedures with patients
Determining collection sites
For this section, you'll respond to 12 knowledge and 10 task statements related to preparing your patients before collecting samples.
3. Routine Blood Collections
The most extensive section of the exam covers routine blood collections. This is the bread and butter of phlebotomy, so it makes sense that it comprises the majority of the exam content. You can expect to see a variety of questions related to different collection methods, sites, and equipment.
Topics you'll encounter on this portion of the test include:
Tourniquet application and removal
Using proper collection techniques, including order of draw
Handling and labeling specimens
Post-draw patient care
You'll need to demonstrate your knowledge of these topics by responding to 22 knowledge statements and 16 task statements.
4. Special Collections
In the special collections section of the exam, you'll find information on collecting specimens from patients with difficult venous access, as well as infants and children. You won't perform these kinds of procedures every day, making them especially important to correctly if and when you do need to accomplish them.
Topics you can expect to see covered in this section include:
Drawing blood from an infant or child
Using alternative sites for specimen collection
Performing other kinds of special collection procedures
You can expect to answer 15 knowledge statements and 7 task statements for special collections topics.
The final section of the exam covers processing and testing procedures. Processing is the last step in the phlebotomy process and includes information on properly transporting and storing specimens for testing.
Topics you'll need to know for this section include:
You'll need to answer 8 knowledge statements and 7 task statements related to processing for this section of the exam.
The role of phlebotomy technicians in laboratory testing
The role of phlebotomy technicians in patient care
Medical terminology related to phlebotomy
Blood components (e.g., serum, plasma, whole blood, RBC, WBC, platelets)
Blood group systems (A, B, AB, O, Rh)
Phlebotomy-related vascular anatomy (e.g., antecubital fossa, hand, foot)
Cardiovascular system (e.g., anatomy and physiology of the heart, pulmonary and systemic blood flow, blood vessels)
Hemostasis and coagulation process
The impact of pre-analytical errors on test results
Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act
Documentation and reporting requirements
Verbal and non-verbal communication (e.g., active listening; pace, tone, and volume of voice; personal space; use of jargon)
Patient characteristics impacting communication (e.g., cultural and religious differences, language barriers, cognitive level, developmental stage)
Professionalism (e.g., integrity, punctuality, etiquette, respect, professional presentation)
Ethical standards applicable to the practice of phlebotomy (e.g., NHA code of ethics)
The first step is to create an account on the NHA website. Once you've done that, you can then register for the exam. Be sure to keep track of your login information so you can log back in to see your scores.
You'll have to pay a non-refundable registration fee for the Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) certification exam of $117. However, if you complete MedCerts’ online CPT training course, the exam fee will be covered by your course fees.
Be sure you have a current government-issued ID as well—you'll need to bring this with you on test day.
One of the best ways to ensure you're fully prepared for the CPT phlebotomy tech certification exam is to take an accredited online course. A good CPT course will help you review all the material you need to know for the exam and prepare you to thrive in your new career as a phlebotomy tech.
Though there are many CPT courses to choose from, most require a significant up-front investment. MedCerts, on the other hand, offers an interest-free tuition financing option that allows you to pay for your course over time.
Tuition for MedCerts' phlebotomy tech certification exam prep classes starts as low as $2,000. Plus, there are monthly tuition payment plans available for every student.
Before you can dive into your MedCerts’ course, there are three things you need to check off your to-do list:
Obtain your high school diploma or GED
Ensure you have a web browser with a stable internet connection
Complete the easy course registration and submit your payment
We provide our students with the most comprehensive and up-to-date phlebotomy tech certification exam prep course available. You'll complete three courses over 12 weeks, including:
Professionalism in Allied Health
Introduction to Human Anatomy and Medical Terminology
Your course registration includes everything you need to succeed, including:
Expert-led video-based training
eBook: Phlebotomy Worktext and Procedures Manual
National Certification exam fee
The cost for the CPT exam is non-refundable and costs $117.00. If you take a MedCerts prep course in advance, this fee is included in your tuition.
You will have two hours to complete the NHA-certified phlebotomy technician exam. Accommodations are available if you have a qualifying disability.
There are 120 total questions on the exam. 100 questions are scored, while the other 20 are unscored.
Most of the exams are issued online. However, there are situations where a paper and pencil exam may be available under special circumstances.
You need to obtain a score of 390 or higher to pass the exam.
Here's the good news—if you fail the exam, you can retake it indefinitely until you pass. However, some conditions apply. After your first and second attempts, you must wait thirty days before retaking the exam. After your third and fourth retakes, you must wait twelve months before retaking it.
Whether you take the test at a PSI testing center or a paper-and-pencil institution, you'll need to bring an acceptable form of government-issued identification, such as a driver's license or passport.
Your certification will last for two years after you pass the exam. After two years, you'll have one year from the date your certification expires to renew it.
You will be responsible for properly handling lab specimens as a laboratory specimen processor. You will ensure that all samples are correctly labeled, stored, and sent to the correct laboratory for testing.
A phlebotomy technician is a healthcare professional who is responsible for the collection of blood samples from patients. They work in hospitals, clinics, and laboratories and are often one the first points of contact between a patient and the medical staff.
After you have a few years of experience under your belt, you may be interested in a career as a laboratory assistant. In this role, you will support the lab technicians and scientists. In addition, you will be responsible for preparing specimens, running tests, and maintaining equipment.
MedCerts offers industry-leading phlebotomy tech certification exam prep courses designed to help you pass the exam with flying colors. Our courses are affordable and can be completed in as little as 12 weeks. Learn more about how to enroll here.