Imagine yourself in the role of a phlebotomist providing invaluable services to many people in your community.
The term phlebotomy refers to the withdrawal of blood from a vein, artery or the capillary bed into blood specimen collection tubes for laboratory analysis, testing, typing, or blood transfusion.
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Decades ago doctors used to draw blood themselves but over time phlebotomy developed into its own sub specialty of the medical field.
Analyzing blood samples has become essential to the following segments of the healthcare network, and so have phlebotomists in:
- Blood donation centers
- Nursing and residential care facilities
- Therapy and rehabilitation centers
- Medical offices & clinics
- Home healthcare services
- Ambulatory emergency services
- In-house, annexed and independent laboratories
Definition: The phlebotomist is a specialized member of the allied health and interdisciplinary medical team, whose focus lies in the area of blood collection and preserving blood and blood related specimens for diagnostic purposes. Phlebotomists collect these samples as ordered by a physician or health care provider and performs simple blood screening tests if requested. One big employer for phlebotomists in many locations across the USA is Quest Diagnostics, to name just one.
Improved health care and early medical screening services have significantly contributed to the increased need for skilled phlebotomists. Many health maintenance medical offices, hospitals, laboratories and blood banks constantly seek phlebotomists so that patients can get the proper care and maintain their health. The phlebotomist performs a variety of venipuncture techniques involved in the collection of blood specimens, preserves, labels, processes, stores and ships specimens for laboratory procedures, and completes all clerical tasks involved in specimen collection, processing and laboratory compliance.
Although the current unemployment rate in the United States remains high, the demand for phlebotomists continues to rise.
I Chose Phlebotomy Because:
- Christine: It feels like a real job in that you can help somebody to get better.
- Jorge Molina: Health care is stable especially in this economy and phlebotomy is rewarding.
- Lisa: I love the scientific end of phlebotomy.
- Geoff: To further my education and to help those that get nervous around the stick.
- Carmen Mincione: I became a phlebotomist to get in the medical field ASAP.
- Ashley: To always have a feeling that at the end of the day I've helped someone.
- Rebecca: To set the example for my children.
- Kyle: For the money and working in a hospital.
- Candice: To have children do the blow the pain away technique.
- Naly Jasengnou: I like to work with people and love to communicate with others.
- Lisa Marshall: Because I love phlebotomy.
- Mary Stednick: Phlebotomy is a stepping stone, where eventually will go into forensics.
- Beth Bishop: I simply LOVE to draw blood and the patient interaction.
- Mary: To provide reassurance to the patient that worries over the needle stick.
- Tomdrika Perry: Because I just want to work in the medical field.
- Wendy: To be a part of the something that has to do with helping people.
- Nathaniel C. Goins: To get one step closer to my nursing degree.
Phlebotomist DutiesPhlebotomy involves specific tasks and services allocated to patients and clients in an outpatient and inpatient (ambulatory care) setting, especially in medical and healthcare, where the phlebotomist may conduct interviews, take vital signs, and draw blood samples for health screening. Further more, the phlebotomist:
- Assembles equipment, such as tourniquet, needles, blood collection devices and tubes and disinfection supplies according to requirements for specified tests or procedures
- Records and verified identity of patient or donor and converses with them as to the purpose and steps of the procedure
- Applies tourniquet to arm, locates accessible vein, swabs puncture area with disinfectant and inserts needle into vein to draw blood into collection tube, or bag
- Withdraws needle, applies treatment to puncture site, labels and stores blood container for subsequent processing
- May prick finger to draw blood
- Adheres to proper collection procedures and maintains order of draw.
Phlebotomy Training Requirements
Phlebotomy training comes in a wide range, from directly on the job training, workshops, programmed instruction, to formal training, which can be completed in as little as 1-3 days, a week, or a few months. Generally speaking, there are no rules and regulations as to who qualifies for phlebotomy training other than having a high school diploma and the ability to follow instructions. Drawing blood, in itself, is a skill that can be (and often is) taught directly on the job.
On the job phlebotomy trainees may simply shadow and observe an experienced co-worker already proficient in blood collection techniques to acquire the necessary skills themselves. However, spurred by higher standards and expectations a new generation of highly skilled phlebotomists who earned their credentials and qualifications from formal programs in a career center, community college, or vocational training institution are now entering the workforce. Here is a detailed example phlebotomy course outline and requirements.
It is important to research the educational, training and job opportunities available in your community first, before you dive right into just any training program, no matter what it is. The first step when deciding whether phlebotomy is a fitting career is to take time to assess what you like and what you do well. You should be compassionate and caring, able to do fine and precise hand movements, good eye sight, not timid when it comes to people, blood and urine, a fast learner, and not afraid of needles.
Formal phlebotomy training from a career training center, community college, or vocational training institution often includes various blood collection simulations on artificial arms, followed by hands-on practice on a real person, typically a fellow student, so it is definitely not for the squeamish.
- Practicing blood specimen preservation techniques in a clinical lab requires paying careful attention to detail and practicing universal precautions.
- Attending lectures on basic anatomy of the connective tissues and circulatory system, blood related medical terminology, legal aspects of blood collection, standard universal precautions, and OSHA and HIPAA regulations requires an interest in these subjects.
Carmen Minchin tells us: "It wasn't possible for me to just go to school for Nursing because I had to work. So, I decided to do phlebotomy to get in the medical field as quickly as possible. I have been working as a certified phlebotomist for seven months now and I feel as though I have gained an edge with good phlebotomy salary and benefits."