Becoming a Phlebotomist
Becoming a phlebotomist can be a rewarding and exciting career. It takes special qualities to be able to perform the particular duties that a phlebotomist undertakes. Besides the training and certification, a phlebotomist must be able to work well with patients, attend to detail, make patients feel at ease and work under pressure, at times, while remaining calm.
So what is a phlebotomist? Phlebotomists are critically important members of the healthcare team. A phlebotomist is a person who has been trained to withdraw blood from a patient, store it and correctly mark it for distribution to the appropriate lab. A phlebotomist primarily draws blood either through a simple pin prick from the finger or heel or by performing venipuntures, or puncturing of the veins with a needle and a collection vesicle.
In some hospitals or physician’s offices, there are specific personnel who only perform venipunctures; in other healthcare offices, nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners, or other emergency medical personnel also perform venipunctures, or draw blood. Regardless of what your goal as a healthcare provider is, performing a venipuncture is a procedure that you will most likely be required to do.
A phlebotomist is required to obtain the appropriate education from a certified institution. In Kentucky, a phlebotomist is only required to obtain an associate’s degree, but a bachelor’s degree is a good choice if you are considering moving up in your career at a later date. In fact, for many, becoming a phlebotomist is just a stepping stone on the ladder to a higher career. The median salary for a phlebotomist in Kentucky is $30,150. For many, they may have higher aspirations and choose to continue moving forward with their career, resulting in a higher salary.
Once the educational requirements have been met, the graduate must complete 100 clinical practice hours. The mainstay to your phlebotomy career will be experience. Those who are seeking certification would be certified through the American Society for Clinical Pathology. In order to apply for this certification, besides your clinical experience, you would also have to complete 100 unassisted blood draws. Applicants should keep a record of their experience as they move through the process.
Phlebotomist requirements vary from state to state. In order to insure that you are meeting your state’s requirements, simply call your state’s department of health, readily available by searching the web. Or, consult with the college adviser where you attend. Because of the ever-changing technology and advances in the medical field, including laboratory specimen collection and testing as well as the various instruments and techniques, phlebotomy is becoming a highly sought after field, requiring trained personnel with skill and precision to accurately perform these tasks.
As a clinical phlebotomist, think about what your patient is feeling like when you approach. You are wearing plastic gloves, carrying a tray with specialized instruments, and you are coming close to them, with the obvious intention of using the instruments that you are carrying. For many patients, this can be a very frightening time. Begin by explaining what you are doing to the patient. Ask the patient if s/he has any questions about the procedure. Talk through the procedure, step by step, and inform the patient about what you are doing. If you sense that the patient is going to flinch or you may need assistance, ask for it before you begin the procedure.
Before you begin the procedure, double-check your patient’s identification bracelet with the orders that you have been given. Make sure that you double-check the equipment you have for the test; some test tubes have various chemicals in them that will react to the drawn blood differently, producing different results. Once you have verified the right person with the right procedure, begin the procedure. Once the procedure is completed, carefully seal and identify the collection and place the appropriate lab details with it so it is sent to the appropriate lab for the appropriate tests.
Your role as a phlebotomist requires much more than just a specialized education and clinical experience. It requires care and tenacity with every situation that you encounter. When you have performed 100 venipunctures as a student, you will feel absolutely prepared to step onto the floor as an independent healthcare provider. Always remember that your role as a phlebotomist is a significant one among the healthcare team. You may be the first point of contact that the patient has – make sure to make it a positive one!