Training to become a laboratory assistant or medical assistant is available at many locations in CA, including National Career Education in Citrus Heights.

Completion of the laboratory assistant, EKG technician/phlebotomist course opens the entry-level door to positions performing laboratory procedures in hematology, bacteriology, urinalysis, electrocardiography and phlebotomy. In addition, the student is able to perform back-office procedures such as taking vital signs, conducting physical examinations, tray setups, injections, and charting patients’ medical history.

Those completing the medical assistant program are qualified to give injections, draw blood, administer electrocardiograms, perform basic laboratory tests, and assist the physician in medical office examinations. In addition, graduates are proficient in appointment scheduling, insurance billing and coding, anatomy and physiology, and medical terminology. Students completing the course are prepared to take the Registered Medical Assistant exam given by American Medical Technologists.

Daytime classes run eight months, while evening classes are nine-and-a-half months. The last month is on-the-job training.

Training for phlebotomists was revamped following a tragic incident that occurred in 1997. “A woman contaminated 5000 patients in the Bay Area by reusing her favorite needle,” reports James Roberts, founder of Ja’onna Medical and Laboratory Skills Training School with locations in Sacramento, Chico and Hawaii. “She was a recent graduate from a weekend phlebotomist technician course who did not receive adequate training for the responsibility of the job.”

Under a new law, lab certification requires 40 hours of state approved lecture, 40 hours of hands-on practical experience, plus 40 hours of clinical internship. The five-week cross training course also includes electrocardiogram training to provide a complete package. An examination and certification by a state-approved national certification agency follows.

“It’s a serious medical procedure that is just coming into its own,” he points out. “It’s also one of the hottest job sectors in the state and the outlook is exceptional. Aging of the population means more and more people with health problems. Consequently, the latest research projects 2 million openings in the medical job market in the next five years.”

Phlebotomist wages in Northern California start between $10 and $14 an hour except in the Bay Area, where hourly rates run $18 and up. There are also jobs that pay the equivalent of $1 a minute.

“The most critical emerging change in the job market is the lack of laboratory people,” Roberts claims. “The doctors can’t do the treatment until nurses post results on the chart, and they can’t post the results until laboratory folks post their results. That can mean life or death to patients.”

It also means excellent job prospects for people with the right skills.

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