A career in healthcare is perhaps the most secure type of occupation you could ask for. There will always be a need for doctors, nurses, and the people who assist them daily. That includes phlebotomy technicians. These specialists draw blood samples for medical tests or take blood from donors for donations. They are a very important part of any healthcare plan and help provide the services needed to diagnose serious health issues for patients or verify that an individual is in good health.
What Exactly is a Phlebotomist?
A phlebotomist is a certified professional who is trained to successfully take or draw blood from their patients inside a clinical environment. A phlebotomist can work with human patients in a doctor’s office, clinic, outpatient center or hospital. They can also work with animals at a veterinary office or an animal hospital.
The process that a phlebotomist uses to take blood from a patient is known as venipuncture. It is defined as making an incision in the vein to draw blood. A phlebotomy tech can make a small incision in the view that allows them to draw blood. They then collect the blood samples which are used for research, testing, donations, or for blood transfusions.
Phlebotomists work under the supervision of a medical lab scientist. The type of certification or licensing that a phlebotomist requires to work, depends on what country, state or region they live in.
Phlebotomists are an important part of any lab facility and they are some of the first professionals that patients encounter when they enter a clinical facility for blood tests.
What are the Work Duties of a Phlebotomist?
The primary duties of a phlebotomist are to test and analyze the blood samples collected from their patients using complex lab equipment. It is vital that a phlebotomist has exceptional attention to detail. This helps to ensure that they label each blood sample correctly with the patient’s personal details as well as the reason for the test in some cases. These steps are even more important when the patient is being tested for a life-threatening health condition.
Adhere to Company and OSHA Safety Rules
Dealing with blood samples requires all phlebotomy technicians and their staff to be strict and comply with all lab safety procedures mandated by both the company they are working for and by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It is up to the staff members to ensure that the lab area which is designated to blood work and other lab samples is always clean and sanitized after each patient leaves the testing area to prevent the spread of harmful diseases.
Show Compassion Toward Patients
A Phlebotomy Tech draws blood from their patient’s arteries and veins to retrieve a sample for testing. One of the biggest parts of a phlebotomist’s job is to ensure that the experience is as pleasant as it can be for the patient. This includes everything from doing whatever they can to make the inserting of the needle less painful to calming their patients who have a fear of needles. Without the ability to calm their patient and show compassion, it would be very difficult for the phlebotomist to do their job successfully.
Remain Calm and Focused
A good phlebotomist will show dexterity while they are working under pressure. It can be difficult for many people to remain calm and collected when they are dealing a stressful situation such as a difficult patient or when they are unable to draw blood from a problematic vein.
On average, a phlebotomist may work with more than 30 patients each day. And each person will have a different reason for needing bloodwork performed. If the phlebotomist is unable to focus on their task and remain calm while dealing with an irritated or uncooperative patient, several mistakes could happen. The vials could be labeled for the wrong test or the wrong patient.
The samples could also become cross-contaminated due to lack of focus from the phlebotomist. Cross contamination is something that happens any time two or more samples of blood interact with one another.
Learn to Listen and Communicate with a Variety of Patients
Another trait that phlebotomists must have is being a good listener and a good communicator. They need to be able to listen to the needs and concerns of their patients. Throughout the day, they may encounter some patients who do not give them any issues at all, and others that experience more pain, discomfort and stress during the procedure.
To be successful with both types of patients, the phlebotomist will need to learn how to communicate well with each type of patient from the stress-free to the high-stress individuals. They also need to be able to work with computers and other modern high-tech devices along with the most up-to-date lab equipment.
Description of a Phlebotomy Tech’s Workplace
The most common place for a phlebotomist to work is in a clinical facility. That can include blood banks, private practices, home health care agencies, hospitals emergency rooms clinics, research centers commercial labs, public health facilities and pharmaceutical firms.
Many public health facilities are usually very busy and rarely have enough workers on staff to take care of all their patients. This can create a stressful work environment. Phlebotomists will often have a work schedule that is rarely a 9-to-5, Monday through Friday job. Their schedules can vary from early mornings to late nights and weekends. This is especially true for phlebotomists who work in 24-hour clinics. Those who work in other facilities such as physician’s offices, labs, or donation centers will usually have standard full-time work hours Monday through Friday.
5 Reasons You Should Consider a Career in Phlebotomy
Phlebotomy is a practical career choice for anyone who wants a stable job that pays well and allows you to help others. To be a good phlebotomist, you need to have patience, good people skills, and great attention to detail. Here are a few more good reasons to consider a career in phlebotomy.
1. Just One Quick Certification and you are Ready to Start Your Career
There are some careers in the medical field that will require you to endure several years of training at a college or university. If you are not interested in dedicating that much time to your higher education but would still like to have a secure job in the medical industry, becoming a phlebotomist is a good choice. The only background education that you need to get started is a high school diploma or GED. Most Phlebotomy Tech programs are completed within a few months while others can take a couple of years. Generally, you can expect to be a certified phlebotomist in one year or less. Once you have completed a program successfully, you can start seeking full time employment.
2. It’s an Excellent Entry-Level Medical Career
Many successful professionals currently in the health care industry used their experience as a phlebotomist to jump start their careers in medicine. When you consider the number of Doctors, Nurses, RNs, Nurse Practitioners and Medical Specialists who got their start as a phlebotomy tech, it is easy to see why so many people recommend phlebotomy training to young adults who are fresh out of high school. Once someone receives their phlebotomy certification, they can later go back to school to earn additional certificates or degrees to improve their occupation and their overall salary.
3. Phlebotomists Play an Important Role in Healthcare
Phlebotomists serve a great need in the healthcare industry. By drawing blood from patients, they play a key role in diagnosing serious diseases or ruling out severe health conditions to pinpoint what is going on with the patient. Phlebotomists also collect blood from donors and later that blood is used for life-saving transfusions.
4. You Get Plenty of Experience Working with Others
If you plan to move on up from an entry level career in medicine, working as a phlebotomist allows you to work alongside doctors, nurses, technicians and other medical specialists all throughout the day. You get to learn more about their daily tasks and get a better idea of which career path you would like to take next.
5. The Career Outlook for Phlebotomists is Very Good
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the career outlook for phlebotomists throughout the next several years looks very promising. There will always be a need for skilled phlebotomist technicians and they are able to work in a variety of health care settings.
Think You Have What It Takes to be a Great Phlebotomist?
Starting a career in Phlebotomy is a great way to get into the medical field without having to go to school for several years. The job offers reasonable pay and flexible hours which is why it is highly desired by many young adults who just graduated from high school. Training doesn’t take long and there is a high demand for phlebotomists in health care, which means you shouldn’t have trouble locating a job once you receive your certification.