Phlebotomists and Nurses: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between a phlebotomist and a nurse? Have you ever wondered this? If you have, you aren’t alone. With all of the different specialties among various medical professions, it can be tough to understand the differences sometimes, especially since some duties may overlap between specific professions. With that being said, let’s dive in and take a closer look at some of the differences and similarities between these professions.

To start with, a phlebotomist and nurse are similar in that they both work with patients in a health care setting, but most of the similarities end there. Phlebotomists really specialize in doing one thing: drawing blood, where nurses can do a wide range of things. This doesn’t mean it’s better be a nurse or better to be a phlebotomist, it just means that the scope of what a phlebotomist can do is more limited and specialized.

In addition to drawing blood, a phlebotomist may have other things that they are responsible for related to drawing blood like labeling tubes, preparing skin puncture sites to avoid infection, and other related duties. While a phlebotomist can draw blood, a nurse can do a considerably wider range of things, but can typically also draw blood if necessary. It’s also important to keep in mind that there are many different types of nurses as well, although the content on this pages focuses on Registered Nurses, or RNs.

The schooling to become a nurse is typically longer than the training to become a phlebotomist because a nurse can do a wider range of duties, so there’s a lot more information to learn. RNs typically are in school for at least two years or possibly longer if a person wants to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, also known as a BSN. The time it takes to become a phlebotomist is typically shorter than the time it takes to become a nurse, although this may depend upon a number of factors including the specific school that a person attends, as well as the rate at which they attend classes and a number of other variables. RNs also typically make twice that of phlebotomists (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data here and here), but they are also typically in school longer, which may be a consideration for some people.

When looking at either career and trying to decide which is best for you, it’s important to weigh a number of factors, not just salary or time in school. You may also want to think about whether or not you’d like the work, and what your future plans are 3, 5, or even 10 years down to road. There’s no one correct answer on which career is better than another, it’s a personal decision and something that you need to think about and decide for yourself.