Drawing the Blood
Who Draws Blood?
Individuals with widely different backgrounds and training are drawing blood in physicians' offices and laboratories. They range from employees with no medical or laboratory background, to certified phlebotomy technicians, to medical technologists, who are highly skilled professionals that have studied the theory and practice of venipuncture and specimen handling, as well as laboratory testing. There are many medical, emergency, and health care professionals who draw blood by venipuncture or skin puncture! People who routinely draw blood may be medical doctors and physicians andnd licensed health care professionals such as:
Nurses (RN, LPN, LVN)
Disease intervention specialists
Clinical Lab Instructors
Scope of practice includes setting up blood collection equipment and supplies on tray, neonatal heelsticks, pediatric, adolescent, adult and geriatric fingersticks, and venipunctures. Duties of a phlebotomist may also include labeling, preserving, packaging, and possibly, transporting blood specimen to the lab for analysis. In most cases the samples are forwarded to an independent reference laboratory where qualified laboratory technicians perform the analysis. They then report their findings back to the physician who ordered the tests. At times, phlebotomists also participate, coordinate, or get involved as volunteers in community health fairs and blood drive events. They also are expected to enroll in continuing education courses, and recertification programs to maintain their phlebotomist credential if they are certified in their field.
Watch this video of a phlebotomist drawing blood from a vein like there's nothing to it. But, whoops, did you notice her mistake?
ATTENTION: Please realize that this video (published from YouTube) is NOT HERE TO TEACH you phlebotomy techniques, but merely to show you different scenarios of the phlebotomist's daily routine. The video may contain techniques, or procedures that do not conform to proper and safe venipuncture protocol. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.
Presently there is no licensing requirement for phlebotomists. Most phlebotomists are formally trained but they can also be trained directly on the job when they transition over from other health care careers, such as a certified nursing assistant or medical assistant to phlebotomist.
Only California and Louisiana have training and certification standards for phlebotomists. Nevertheless, an increasing number of phlebotomists received their training from
1 year phlebotomy programs which are offered at vocational/technical schools
2 year phlebotomy programs at community colleges awarding associate's degrees
Uniformed services, such as the Army medics and their EMT's
Dealing With Different People
Each and every patient must be treated kindly, respectfully and professionally no matter how tired the phlebotomist is from helping previous difficult and or even abusive patients. Fatigue, aching back, ringing ears (from screaming kids), etc. must all be set aside as the next patient is greeted with a smile and friendly hello, all the while following intricate operating procedures to the letter.
Each hour I would scurry about the 8 floor building to collect timed specimens while being paged to draw STATs along the way. It seemed to me that I had the toughest job in the hospital as I really had to hustle and occasionally stretched the rules of safety to get the job done. There's one story about a fellow phlebotomist that is applicable here but I best leave it untold as it is so tragic.
Through it all though I came away with a positive experience as my efforts contributed to helping people. But the work that the MT's performed looked so much easier than what I was doing and they were paid over double. I finally decided that was the job for me and I have no regrets.
About the Author: Lon is an experienced Medical Technologist (MT) who has worked many years as a phlebotomist. In his spare time he enjoys researching interesting topics and writing about them.