If you are interested in starting a career in a strong industry with plenty of job security, the medical field has plenty of options available. Even if you are not interested in becoming a nurse, doctor or medical specialist, there are still opportunities where you can help patients with a minimal amount of training involved. A job in phlebotomy is a great opportunity for young adults just entering the work force, as well as seasoned workers who are looking for a career change.

Who are Phlebotomists?

Phlebotomists are medical professionals that collect blood samples used either for donations at blood banks, or so that a patient’s blood may be analyzed in a clinical lab. Blood tests can help to determine if an individual has a particular illness These tests can also help physician understand the effectiveness of the medication their patients hey are taking, and determine if the patient’s nutritional needs are being met.

A Phlebotomist’s job is extremely important within the medical industry. These professionals can be seen working in hospitals, physician’s offices, clinics and numerous other facilities where patients are seen on a regular basis. Their work is the initial step that helps doctors and specialists diagnose a patient with a serious illness, which leads to finding the right treatment options for a healthier life.

Job Description

The main job duty for a phlebotomist is collecting blood samples. This is done through a process known as venipuncture. To collect blood from a vein in the arm, the phlebotomist ties a tourniquet to the patient’s upper arm. This helps to slow blood flow to make the sample collection much easier. The site where blood is to be drawn is then swabbed with alcohol to disinfect the area. Then the phlebotomist locates the vein and inserts a needle to collect the sample. While it is most common to collect blood from the arm, phlebotomists can also retrieve samples from skin punctures, such as pricking a finger to determine blood sugar levels. Alternate sites such as the heel of the foot may also be used for infants and small children that require samples for blood tests.

The Job Duties of a Phlebotomist

While it is a phlebotomist’s primary job duty to collect samples of blood and other bodily fluids that may be used for medical tests, these professionals have several other responsibilities which vary depending on the type of facility they work in or the years of experience they have had in the field.

Some of the additional tasks that a phlebotomist may take on include…

  1. Transporting specimen samples to a nearby lab
  2. Practicing proper patient identification
  3. Labeling vials with the correct name and date
  4. Keeping phlebotomy tools well-organized and on-hand at all times
  5. Practicing infection control standards
  6. Filling out forms and paperwork for each individual patient
Correctly labeling samples is a job duty that is extremely important for phlebotomists. One small mistake could have a physician diagnosing their patient with the wrong disease or treating them for an illness that they do not have. Whenever an order for a blood sample is received, it is the job of the phlebotomist to determine which method is best for obtaining the amount of blood needed. A phlebotomist should already know which tools they will need for performing each procedure, and have the right vials on hand to collect the samples. It is their responsibility to label each sample with the correct name, date and other vital information and have it transported to the lab on time.

Even though phlebotomists do not spend a large amount of time with each patient they see, it is important that they have a kind and caring attitude while obtaining samples. Skin punctures and venipuncture techniques can be traumatic for many individuals and therefore it is the phlebotomist’s job to make the patient feel as comfortable as possible throughout the procedure. A good phlebotomist should always have excellent people skills and plenty of patience. This is especially important for those who choose to work at children’s hospitals or pediatrician facilities, or those that obtain samples from elderly patients at hospitals and nursing homes.

Required Skills for the Average Phlebotomist

Anyone who is interested in becoming a phlebotomist will need to master a number of skills in order to do their job correctly. Learning how to correctly perform a venipuncture or skin puncture is obviously the most important, however there are several other skills that a training phlebotomist must achieve before they can receive their certification.

Some facilities may require a phlebotomist to take a patient’s vital signs before drawing blood or collecting other samples. This can involve everything from getting a patient’s current height and weight to checking their blood pressure levels.

There are some phlebotomists that not only take on the duty of drawing blood but also perform tests on the samples as well. For that reason, learning how to properly collect and handle all types of specimens, and how to perform chemical tests are important skills for phlebotomists to learn as well.

Most phlebotomists receive on-the-job training in order to learn specific procedures for the particular facility they work in. While certification requirements vary by state, most are able to enter the field with a postsecondary non-degree award from a phlebotomy program. This is a positive career for individuals entering the work force to consider because there will always be a need for phlebotomists in the medical field. Training is fairly simple compared to other medical careers, and phlebotomists get to enjoy steady work, a good annual salary, and the joy of helping others live longer, healthier lives.