TriCore’s Phlebotomy Trainee Program: Fills a Critical Need

Robin Divine, Chief Executive Officer
June 12, 2024


Running a business in New Mexico is challenging. Much of our talent, especially in STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—leaves the state and typically don’t return. This migration has created a shortage of qualified professionals, particularly in healthcare. Consequently, our academic centers struggle to produce enough graduates, especially in biosciences, to meet the needs of healthcare organizations in New Mexico.

This challenge is especially true for TriCore. We had to be creative in filling these critical roles in a cost-effective manner to ensure that healthcare remains affordable for our patients and community members.


The Solution: TriCore’s Phlebotomy Trainee Program

The TriCore Phlebotomy Trainee Program was created from ground zero with a clear vision: create a curriculum that covers basic phlebotomy theory and skills for individuals pursuing a career in phlebotomy and healthcare. Phlebotomists draw blood from patients, they are the face of TriCore, playing a critical role, and providing a personal touch for patients.

We are looking for individuals with a GED or high school or college diploma who want to develop skills for a career. The curriculum spans three weeks, provides intensive instruction, and hands-on experience in phlebotomy techniques. The program balances classroom learning and practical application.


“We can only accept 12 people per course to ensure trainees have a personal, high-touch experience.”


The Curriculum

Clinical rotation starts on day one with trainees dedicating two hours each to lectures and lab sessions, and four hours to clinical rotations at various TriCore locations around Albuquerque. For people outside the city, we arrange accommodation at our patient care centers in their areas. Trainees receive 30 hours of theory instruction, 30 hours of lab practice, and 52 hours of clinical rotations. Upon completing the program, trainees can transfer into Phlebotomy Apprentice positions throughout the organization.

The Program has been instrumental in nurturing and molding the next generation of phlebotomy professionals. Since its inception in 2022, seven programs have been completed, with 56 trainees successfully graduating. Among these graduates, 41 have secured permanent positions at TriCore. They fulfill critical vacancies, and we are monitoring their first-year turnover and tenure with the organization.


My Role

Although my role is not critical to their training, it is essential for making the TriCore connection. I explain the importance of their role within our organization, and how they can make a difference. During the three-week course, I periodically drop in on their classes, and attend graduation. I ask the trainees what they’ve learned about TriCore, if they prefer the hospital or outpatient setting and why, answer their questions, and discuss their future with our organization.


 “As a way to bring levity during the program, I also volunteer to have my blood drawn but so far, no one has taken me up on that offer.”


After our last graduation ceremony, I enjoyed sitting down with two individuals who were excited about their job prospects. We discussed their aspirations and future at TriCore in terms of growth and career development. They could start on the front line as an apprentice phlebotomist, stay in phlebotomy or potentially move into laboratory operations or even executive roles over time.


Final Thoughts

The Phlebotomy Trainee Program – launched in 2022 amid the pandemic – has excelled in many ways. The people applying for the program are strong candidates for careers in healthcare, with most accepting permanent positions at TriCore, and making a difference every day with our patients.


I am especially grateful to all the TriCore employees who have made this program an overwhelming success:

  • The Workforce Education and Development team, who manage the program and train the candidates.
  • TriCore’s Patient Care Center and hospital employees and their site leaders who take on the additional rotations.
  • TriCore employees, who spread the word about this great program.
  • The candidates who take a leap of faith with us in this program and agree to join the team.