What does a phlebotomist do?
This is a common question from those who are not familiar with the job of a phlebotomist. The phlebotomist goes by other names as well, such as lab technician or lab assistant. The phlebotomy technician wears many hats. They do not only draw blood, which is called venipuncture. The phlebotomist obtains capillary sticks, centrifuges blood, obtains and tests urine samples and process insurance.
If the phlebotomist is working in an outpatient lab, they may also be in charge of cleaning up the lab between clients.
Who are the patients of a phlebotomy technician?
As a phlebotomist, you will draw blood on infants, toddlers, children, adults and the elderly. You have to have a thorough knowledge of the blood specimens which you are testing, such as the additives in the tubes and the various preparations for the tests. You will need lot of knowledge to work in this field. Your job requires being on your feet from the time you start work to the time that you finish.
If you are a phlebotomist working in the hospital, you must go from one floor to another rapidly. The urgency of your job does not lend you the luxury of waiting on an elevator. Instead you must use the stairs. Your supervisors understand this and therefore only schedule you several floors together, such as floors three, four and five, rather than ten, one and seven.
However, if you are a phlebotomist working a midnight shift you may actually have to work the entire hospital with one other phlebotomist in the emergency room.
The workload of a phlebotomy technician
As a phlebotomist you are affectionately called the, “vampire”. Why? Because you’re always in a hurry to get your blood and go!
Regardless of how stressful their job, the Phlebotomy technician must take time with each and every patient. Many patients are afraid of having their blood drawn, especially children, so the phlebotomist must have a gentle demeanor and be encouraging. When performing a blood draw on a child the phlebotomist must engage the parents for their help in distracting or holding the child.
But obtaining a blood sample is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what skills the phlebotomist must know. Understanding the correct order of draw and the additives in each tube is essential in dictating whether or not the phlebotomist comes back with a viable specimen.
Training and knowledge of a phlebotomist
The phlebotomist must have as strict knowledge of infection control and how to prevent cross contamination. After all, the phlebotomist may find themselves drawing blood in diverse places, such as in emergency situations, in patients homes or by the hospital bedside.
Knowledge of proper sharps disposal is also a key element of importance during the shift of any phlebotomist. One mistake could cause irreparable harm to either the phlebotomist or the patient. The mistake which is being referred is the mistake of a needle stick.
The phlebotomist is always at risk of accidentally getting stuck by a dirty needle. That is why the phlebotomist must be trained to understand the seriousness of accidental needle sticks and know the procedures if such scenarios occur.
Will I like being a phlebotomist?
Most phlebotomists love their jobs. You’ll find it an exciting and rewarding profession. Phlebotomy technician class does not require prior medical experience and the classes are usually anywhere from four weeks to six months. As a Graduate phlebotomists you will be able to find jobs readily in labs or hospitals. The best thing is that your pay is also about twice that of minimum wage. The job of a phlebotomy technician is an exciting and rewarding career.