Needles, plasma, and keeping patients calm—these are often a part of a career in phlebotomy. But for some people in this career field, it's not so much about drawing blood as it is helping people to live a healthier life, because blood tells us so much about what's going on in our bodies. Sound good to you? Then read on to see what life could be like after phlebotomy technician training.
What is a phlebotomist?
Phlebotomy is most literally defined as making an incision into a vein. Phlebotomists—or phlebotomy technicians—primarily work as part of medical laboratory teams, although they may occasionally work in independent practices or as part of ambulatory care units. In labs, phlebotomists collect blood samples which are then analyzed and often used for diagnosis or to monitor chronic health conditions. Blood samples may also be used as part of research or as a donation to a blood bank.
Phlebotomy tasks and duties
A lot goes into taking a blood sample. The first thing a phlebotomist must do is correctly identify the patient. If he or she gets the wrong name on the wrong blood sample, it can drastically throw off data and lead to serious miscommunication down the line. Once identity is established, the phlebotomist collects the necessary amount of blood from the patient via a vein or prick on the skin. A major part of blood collection is interacting with patients. This is where a phlebotomist's interpersonal skills come into play. He or she should be friendly, approachable, and sympathetic. Many people can't deal with the sight of their own blood, and who can blame them? Phlebotomists should exercise patience in these situations.
Then, there are the behind-the-scenes duties, which may vary depending on the workplace. A phlebotomist must correctly label all samples and ensure that they're sent through the correct collection system and tests. In many cases, the phlebotomist transports blood samples. They may also perform data entry and billing for services, which requires familiarity with computers and basic insurance policies and procedures.
Seeking phlebotomist jobs
A phlebotomy technician program is a great way to receive training for an entry-level phlebotomist position, which can take as little as 12 weeks.3 Phlebotomy programs often mix classroom education with actual hands-on lab work. Students use phlebotomy equipment, learn to draw blood, review safety procedures, receive basic CPR and health care provider first-aid training, and may be able to go on clinical externships where they'll interact with actual patients. Following graduation, students can take the American Medical Technologists phlebotomy certification exam.
The future for phlebotomists looks promising.
Employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers, and other locations will need phlebotomists to perform blood work.