Phlebotomy is collecting blood for donation or analysis at a clinical laboratory. A blood test can diagnose illness, evaluate the effectiveness of medications or determine whether a patient receives proper nutrition.
Before collecting blood from a patient, as a phlebotomist, you will first introduce yourself, properly identify the patient, wash your hands, put on gloves, and apply a tourniquet to the upper arm to slow blood flow. You will use an alcohol swab to disinfect a small area near the inside of the elbow. You will then locate a vein and insert a needle. After inserting the needle, you will release the tourniquet before removing the needle. Once complete, you promptly dispose of the needle in a biohazard container. This process is called venipuncture. You must wash your hands after the removal of your gloves. Phlebotomists also sample blood through skin puncture, like pricking a finger for a blood sugar check.
Phlebotomists also ensure that all equipment receives sanitation before blood collection. Accurate labeling, appropriate storage, and careful transport are also crucial responsibilities.
As a phlebotomist, you can work in a wide variety of settings. A few of the more common places that hire phlebotomists are medical laboratories, hospitals, public health centers, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, blood donation centers and other health care facilities. A clinical laboratory technologist or other health care professionals typically supervises phlebotomists.
A phlebotomist must be exceptionally accurate and careful. It is not uncommon in busy facilities for a phlebotomist to take multiple blood samples during a typical shift. A phlebotomist must work under pressure without sacrificing accuracy or safety. A phlebotomist must be well organized and have good attention to detail. Fine motor skills are a must for inserting needles into a vein. Because many patients are afraid of needles, one of a phlebotomist’s primary duties is to put patients at ease. As a phlebotomist, you must be proficient enough to handle difficult, emotional and occasionally angry patients.
To develop into a phlebotomist, you must finish high school and complete a training program. Phlebotomy training programs generally include studying anatomy, blood collection procedures, proper storage and handling of blood samples and safety precautions. Currently, there are more than 200 accredited phlebotomy training programs at community colleges and vocational schools nationwide.
Some employers will only hire phlebotomists who have successfully passed the certification exam. To sit for the exam requires that you complete a training program and demonstrate 100 successful venipunctures and 25 skin punctures.
The National Phlebotomy Association requires 200 hours of training, which includes clinical experience. You must pass the national certification exam with a score of 70% or better, and continuing education is a requirement for all phlebotomists to maintain certification. Some states also require phlebotomists to be licensed.
The job outlook for phlebotomists is excellent, with the profession growing much faster than the national average for all occupations. Pay varies on your location, shift, education and experience. The average salary is between $25,177 to $30,470 per year.
The experienced recruiters at CnStaffing can help you advance your phlebotomy career.