Does the sight of blood bother you the least? Then being a phlebotomist may be the job for you. A phlebotomist draws blood for testing or donating so that the blood samples can be analyzed in a clinical laboratory. Blood tests are useful in diagnosing illnesses, evaluating the effectiveness of medicines and determining if a patient is getting the right kind of nutrition needed for proper body functioning.
For a phlebotomist to draw blood from an arm vein, they first apply tourniquet to the upper part of the arm to make the flow of blood slow. An alcohol swab is then used to clean and disinfect a small area inside the elbow. The phlebotomist then looks for a vein and inserts the needle so as to draw blood. This process is called venipuncture.
A phlebotomist is a specialist trained healthcare professional that is responsible for drawing blood from patients either for drug testing or any other forms of medical analysis.
After you draw the blood, you should label it and safely transport the blood sample to the testing facility and carry out the diagnostic tests so as to interpret the results. You should also assure patients of their safety and help them relax before drawing blood from them and verify and record patient’s identity. Some patients or donors are afraid of needles so it is your duty to explain to them about the procedure you are about to have and then calm them down.
As a phlebotomist you will be expected to talk with donors or patients and records their vital signs as a way of screening blood donors and then you analyze data about the specimens and make recommendations if necessary. Sometimes, you may be expected to carry out data entry duties.
Before performing any procedure on a patient, you should assemble all the needed equipment such as needles, gauze, tourniquet, and alcohol, disposable containers for needles and cotton, and blood collection devices on a work tray according to the requirements of a particular procedure.
You can also sample patient’s blood through skin puncture, such as pricking a finger to analyze a patient’s blood sugar levels and identify blood type. You should ensure that all the equipment to be used is properly sanitized before it is used to collect blood. A phlebotomist should also be very keen on labeling, proper storage of samples and careful transportation of the same. Poor storage or wrong labeling of a blood samples can have devastating consequences, because medical professionals only rely on the blood test results to diagnose patients and monitor the treatment progress.
As a phlebotomist, you should ensure that you maintain very strict protocols to avoid any direct contact with the blood. There are so many infectious diseases such as AIDS and Hepatitis that can be transmitted through direct contact with blood. Even the smallest kind of distraction can cause a ‘needle prick’ injury and a possible infection. You should possess very fine motor skills so as to insert a needle successfully into a vein without injuring a patient or yourself.
How much does a phlebotomist make? Those who work as phlebotomists are among the lowest paid workers in the health care field. According to the Bureau Labor of Statistics, May 2012, the mean annual salary of a phlebotomist is $30,910. This means that a phlebotomist earns about $14.68 per hourly rate. The highest paid phlebotomists earn an average salary of $42,600 while the least paid make merely $21,340. Those phlebotomists that receive very high salaries have been certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathology, or have many years experience, in most cases, more than 20 years.
The salary of phlebotomists also varies depending on the work place settings. For example, those that are employed in surgical or general hospitals earn salaries that are below the average at $29,840, but phlebotomist that work in medical diagnostic laboratories earn more than the average salary at $32,310. Phlebotomist who high the highest work in the insurance industry with an average yearly salary of $41,350, however, getting a job in the insurance industry is very difficult. Additionally, the salary of a phlebotomist varies from state to state, with Alaska being the highest paying states with an annual average salary of $38,750.
As a phlebotomist, you may be employed to work in blood banks, medical diagnostic laboratories, hospitals, healthcare services and private physician’s offices. Most phlebotomist work full time (8 hour shifts) during normal business hours, although there are also many part-time phlebotomist positions that are available. Blood drives are mostly held on weekends or evenings, so you may be expected to also work on weekends and irregular hours. You will be supervised by a clinical laboratory technologist.
Most of the work of a phlebotomist work is carried out indoors and it involves a lot of standing and walking. You should always wear protective clothes such as masks and gloves since you are often exposed to contaminants and life threatening conditions.
To qualify as a phlebotomist, you must have a GDE or its equivalent. It is important to join a training program in an accredited college or a technical school. After you have successfully completed the program, you are awarded a certificate or a diploma which is a basic necessity when getting a license and a certification. You can also take the certification examinations of organizations such as the American Technologists (AMT), American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) and the American Association of Medical Personnel (AAMP). There are some other states that also require phlebotomist to be certified before they are allowed to work. For instance, California State requires that for a phlebotomist to be allowed to work, they must have completed a minimum of 40 hours of class time, 40 hours of clinical practice, 10 skin punctures and 50 venipunctures before they can get any licenses.
Certified and experienced phlebotomist have an edge over those that are just beginning or do not have any certification. If you are certified, then you will be able to command a higher salary than those who are not certified. Certification can also give the phlebotomist the chance to look for higher roles such as supervisory roles which have better salaries.