Phlebotomist Careers

A career in phlebotomy may not sound familiar to you and many people, unless you are involved in the medical field or a health sciences career.

However, if you have ever had your blood drawn, then it was most likely drawn by a phlebotomist. Phlebotomists draw blood for many different reasons, such as blood tests, blood donations, transfusions or even research. After they have collected the blood, they send the blood sample to the appropriate clinical laboratory for analyzing. Phlebotomists are skilled at explaining to patients the steps to drawing blood, and they are trained to reassure patients that they will be by their side throughout the entire procedure. If drawing blood and handling bags of blood do not affect you, you may want to consider a career as a phlebotomist. They work in many different settings and meet all kinds of different patients.

Why are phlebotomists important?

Although other medical professionals, such as nurses, can draw blood, phlebotomists are usually the ones performing the task. The blood samples that they draw can drastically change a person’s life, as the blood is crucial for medical professionals to understand the health of a patient. The samples can determine the effectiveness of a patient’s medication, and the samples can also determine whether a patient has malnutrition. Finally, and maybe most importantly, phlebotomists can draw blood samples from a patient that can be used to diagnose them with an illness of disease. Phlebotomists must take their job seriously since healthcare professionals depend on blood tests to diagnose patients and to monitor the progress of specific treatment.

What are the job duties of phlebotomists?

Phlebotomists do many jobs besides drawing blood. They keep their workstations sterile and clean, to avoid any contamination or infections and they adequately assemble medical equipment like needles, blood vials, and test tubs. For a phlebotomist to prevent a patient from feeling any discomfort, it is crucial that they draw blood samples on their first attempt successfully. Failing to do so can cause the patient discomfort and can make the blood sample even harder to obtain. Many people have a fear of blood or needles, which can make a phlebotomist’s job more difficult while the patient struggles to relax for the procedure. No matter the reason for a patient’s discomfort, phlebotomists must perform their job professionally and efficiently to obtain the blood samples and keep the patient at ease.

Phlebotomists and Safety Concerns

While phlebotomists are trained to handle unfortunate circumstances such as misidentified or contaminated blood samples, they must also adhere to specific safety protocols. Since infectious diseases, like hepatitis and HIV, can be transmitted through contact with blood, phlebotomists must avoid direct contact with blood samples at all time. Phlebotomists need always to demonstrate fine motor skills to insert a needle into a vein successfully since something as small as a needle stick injury can result in infection.

Phlebotomists must also be remarkably detailed oriented since they must label the right blood sample to the right patient or blood donor. Failing to do so can result in a blood sample being lost or misplaced. A mislabeling can result in an injured or sick patient, as they did not receive the correct information that could have helped them or prevented any issues. They must also verify all patient’s personal information and enter the appropriate information into a database. In addition, phlebotomists spend long hours working with their hands, so it is essential that they maintain stamina throughout the day to use the equipment properly.

Where do phlebotomists work?

The majority of phlebotomists work full-time. The most common places for phlebotomists to work are in local, state and private hospitals. After hospitals, phlebotomists are commonly employed by by medical and diagnostic laboratories, ambulatory healthcare services, offices of physicians and outpatient care centers. They also work in community health centers, doctor’s offices and nursing homes. Typically, phlebotomists work under the supervision of a healthcare professional or a clinical laboratory technologist. They spent long periods on their feet, and they often work in remote sites like mobile donation centers. Depending on their employer, they may travel to patient’s homes or medical care centers. In addition, the ones that work in a hospital setting and laboratories may be asked to work nights, weekends and holidays, depending on the employer.

The current median salary for phlebotomists is around $34,000, with the lowest 10 percent earning around $24,000 and the highest ten percent earning about $48,000. Phlebotomists in outpatient care centers typically have the highest median income, followed by phlebotomists in outpatient care centers, medical and diagnostic laboratories, ambulatory healthcare services, offices of physicians and local, state and private hospitals.

How can I become a phlebotomist?

While phlebotomists may be trained on the job and enter the workforce with only a high school diploma, most phlebotomists enroll in a phlebotomy program and obtain a postsecondary nondegree award. You can find a phlebotomy program at community colleges, technical schools and vocational schools. The program typically takes about a year to complete and you can take certification programs that focus on anatomy and medical terminology, among other subjects. Several organizations offer phlebotomy certificates, such as the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), the National Phlebotomy Association and the American Medical Technologists, among other organizations. Certification programs are made up of both a classroom and laboratory setting. It is worth noting that most employers prefer candidates who have earned professional certification in phlebotomy, but the requirements for education will vary by employer. In addition, all phlebotomists will receive formal training on how identifying and labeling blood samples, in addition to instruction on how to track blood samples that they take.

Are there jobs available for phlebotomists?

Over the next decade, hospitals, blood donor centers and diagnostic laboratories, among other centers, will show an increased need for phlebotomists to draw blood. Therefore, there will be many jobs available for those interested in becoming phlebotomists. As technology advances, blood analysis continues to be a critical component in both hospitals and medical laboratories. As long as healthcare professionals, such as doctors, continue to need blood work for medical diagnosis and analysis, the demand for phlebotomists will continue to be significant.

Phlebotomists are often at their busiest during a health emergency when they collect a large quantity of blood from many different donors. During times of health emergencies, interest in blood donations typically rises. When more people get in line to donate blood, the more phlebotomists will be needed at mobile blood centers and donation centers. So, as long as health care professionals need blood samples from their patients and as long as blood donations are needed, phlebotomist jobs will be available.

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