A phlebotomist’s job is nothing short of demanding. For those who don’t know, a phlebotomist is that person who draws your blood when it is needed for a test, donation or research purposes in a healthcare facility. In other words, a phlebotomist’s job involves hurting people. Of course, not in a bad way; just a little pinch. Regardless, most people get nervous when they see syringes especially children. There are even adults with severe cases of blood injury phobia that faint at the slightest sight of blood. However, a phlebotomist plays a very crucial role in a healthcare center. Remember, the drawn blood is used to ascertain patients’ health conditions through tests and analysis. In most cases, to save lives. So what’s a typical day in the life of a phlebotomist and what are phlebotomist job duties?
Starting the shift
The shift of phlebotomists depends on the arrangement with the employer or where they work. For instance, most phlebotomists who work in blood donation centers, clinics or diagnostic centers work during the day. If you’re working the typical ‘9-5’ shift, then your day will start early in the morning. However, if you work in a busy hospital and your shift is throughout the night, you’re expected to check in during the evening.
In most hospitals, there is usually a phlebotomy manager whom you can report to after checking in for work. Once you report to work, there is a working station where phlebotomists can replenish their supplies for the day. After restocking the supplies, the phlebotomist is given a request slip of patients that need to be attended for blood withdrawal. The request slips have all the necessary information about the patients such as the hospital I.D, name, and date of birth. Additionally, the receiving order must include any pertinent information or special request the phlebotomist needs to be aware of before the blood withdrawal. For example, there are patients with allergies or rare medical conditions. On the other hand, the special requests involve things such as the specific body part from which the blood should be drawn, blood withdrawal intervals or even the type of blood tube that should be used for the process.
Drawing the blood
Now, this is where the real work begins. After getting the requests from the physician or registered nurse, the next step is to visit the wards where the patients are admitted. Remember, all patients have different and special needs. It is courtesy to introduce yourself as a phlebotomist and inform the patients that you’re there to draw their blood. Be careful; some patients might call you a vampire! Sometimes there are patients who are asleep and need to be woken up. Usually most patients cooperate when drawing their blood but of course, expect to meet up with patients who have a phobia of needles. If a patient is nervous, the phlebotomist should reassure the patient it is just a standard procedure and tries to calm down their nerves. In most cases, the venipuncture procedure is relatively easy with no complications. However, sometimes there are patients you will find challenging to trace their veins. When it happens, you can consult the nurse to assist you to withdraw blood through other options.
Taking samples to the laboratory
Once the phlebotomist collects the samples and verifies all the blood tubes have been accurately labeled, the samples are transferred to the laboratory for analysis. At the laboratory, the phlebotomist can proceed to place the tubes in a centrifuge to separate the blood cells and plasma. This is a job that can also be done by a lab technician. The blood samples are then categorized based on the type of test required and which laboratory department will be performing the analysis. The most common departments in hospital laboratories are serology, blood bank, microbiology, hematology, and chemistry. After the laboratory part is done, the phlebotomist can go back to withdrawing blood from a different group of patients.
Occasionally, there are emergency situations where a phlebotomist is needed to assist in blood transfusion. The phlebotomist is required to cross-match a patient’s blood type. Remember, somebody’s life depends on you. Hence, it is vital to counter-check the details and make sure the patient is administered with the exact matching blood type.
A Phlebotomist job is ideally suited for those who have an eye for detail. It is normal for a rookie phlebotomist to be anxious due to the uncomfortable feeling that comes with injecting other people, especially children. The good news is that if you’re new to the job, you will eventually overcome your anxiety through more experience and practice. As a phlebotomist, you will also be working closely with medical assistants, nurses, doctors, lab technicians and pathologists who will make your job easier by giving you a helping hand whenever necessary. At the end of the day, you would have made a difference in somebody’s life.
Don’t worry; you will still get your coffee and lunch breaks.