If you’re looking for a healthcare profession that you can step into fairly quickly, becoming a phlebotomist or a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) are two common options.
Both roles allow you to interact directly with patients and make a positive difference in the quality of care they receive.
However, there are several advantages of becoming a phlebotomist over a CNA:
Better pay: One of the major advantages of becoming a phlebotomist over a CNA is a bigger paycheck. CNAs earn an average of $11.46 per hour, according to 2008 data; however, phlebotomists earn an average of $12.50 to $13 per hour, depending on their work environment.
Phlebotomists may also advance to more specialized or supervisory positions, which can result in up to twice that amount per hour.
Fewer “dirty jobs”: CNAs are often the ones to clean up after the bodily functions of patients, including emptying bedpans and changing soiled linens; they’re also the ones who must bathe, dress and feed patients—all tasks that are undesirable for many, even for many in the medical field.
These “dirty jobs” may take up a good portion of a CNA’s shift. While phlebotomists do deal with blood, they don’t spend much of their time cleaning up after patients.
Though some patients may vomit when having blood drawn, phlebotomist have far fewer “dirty jobs” than CNAs; this is considered by many to be one of the biggest advantages of becoming a phlebotomist over a CNA.
More regular hours: A good number of phlebotomists work in labs and offices, and thus work more “normal” hours than many others in the medical field.
While a phlebotomist many have to work a few evenings or Saturdays, the chances of a phlebotomist pulling the night shift are fairly small compared to a CNA.
CNAs often work nights, evenings, weekends and holidays since they care for patients in facilities that function around the clock.
Less physical strain: Being a CNA often involves long hours spent on your feet, including physically demanding tasks such as helping patients sit, stand or walk.
They’re at risk for back injuries and muscle strains, and often carry heavy workloads. One of the advantages of becoming a phlebotomist over a CNA is that phlebotomy tends to be less physically taxing.
Consistency: Phlebotomists’ duties are more consistent than most CNAs’, because phlebotomists are more specifically trained.
They can approach each shift knowing the type of work they’ll be doing because their responsibilities are relatively unchanging from day to day.
While working as a CNA has its benefits, too—many CNAs enjoy the variety of work they do or the ability to interact with the same patients over longer periods of time—the advantages of becoming a phlebotomist over a CNA outweighs these benefits for most people considering a career in the medical field. Find out more about studying to qualify as a CNA.