A phlebotomist is an experienced health worker who is trained in phlebotomy, the practice of opening a blood vessel for diagnostic or therapeutic reasons. Historically, phlebotomy was part of the blood-letting process to cure or prevent illness or disease. Modern medicine uses the procedure to withdraw blood or introduce fluids into the bloodstream.
In the United States, most phlebotomists are nurses or other experienced health professionals. In fact, many nurses get their start in phlebotomy. There are numerous job opportunities for phlebotomists, and they can lay the groundwork for other medical careers.
Phlebotomists work in hospitals, medical laboratories, diagnostic laboratories, blood donation centers, medical clinics, doctor’s offices, nursing homes and prisons. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary was about $30,000 in 2012. Salaries are based on training, certification and experience.
Phlebotomists typically enter the medical field with a postsecondary, non-degree award from a college or hospital phlebotomy program. Most employers require professional certification or licensing as well as the training award. Compassion and dexterity are essential qualities for a phlebotomist to possess, as are hand-eye coordination and attention to detail.
Phlebotomy Job Description
Phlebotomists draw blood for the purpose of research, testing, transfusion or blood donation. They usually perform the procedure through a venal puncture. Specially trained phlebotomists draw blood through arteries, and they may also give injections, set up intravenous (IV) lines and administer intravenous medications.
Phlebotomists express compassion in practical ways when they explain their work to patients or blood donors and calm them during a procedure. They also provide assistance when people experience adverse reactions to having their blood drawn.
Phlebotomy is a hands-on job, and dexterity is essential for the efficient and proper use of medical instruments and equipment. To reduce patient discomfort, phlebotomists must perform their duties on the first attempt. This requires not only dexterity but also hand-eye coordination.
Attention to detail is essential to avoid misplaced specimens or injury to a patient or donor. Throughout the day, phlebotomists draw many vials of blood for testing and processing. They must pay special attention to patient or donor identities and other important data when they label samples, track vials and enter information into databases.
Phlebotomist Job Duties
Although some phlebotomists administer medicine intravenously, most workers spend the day drawing blood for laboratory testing. In medical or diagnostic labs, they may be the only medical professionals that patients see. During blood drives, they interact directly with donors.
Excellent communication skills are essential in this profession. As well as drawing blood, phlebotomists must talk to patients and donors to calm them during a procedure. Many people have a fear of blood or needles, and communication builds confidence and trust.
Phlebotomists talk to people to verify their identities. This ensures proper labeling of blood samples for testing and processing. Data entry skills are required since phlebotomists must enter information into medical databases. Bookkeeping and records management skills are also helpful.
Phlebotomists assemble and maintain several different medical instruments including needles, blood vials and test tubes. To prevent infection and other complications, they must keep these instruments and their work areas clean and sanitary. In the event of a medical emergency, phlebotomists use their first aid skills to assist other medical personnel.
Phlebotomy is an exciting career field with many surprising job opportunities. While the Phlebotomy Job description varies from one position to the next, the work is very rewarding. Phlebotomy is also one of the fastest-growing professions in the medical industry. The BLS projects a 27 percent job growth by 2022.