Have you heard of the term Phlebotomy? If you have ever needed blood work, there is a large chance that the person performing the blood draw was a Phlebotomist. When a Medical Assistant completes this task, they are performing the function of a Phlebotomist. A Phlebotomist, also called a Phlebotomy Technician, is an allied health professional trained to draw blood from a patient for clinical or medical testing, transfusions, donations, or research. Phlebotomists perform an essential function within healthcare environments.
Phlebotomists draw blood from patients of all ages. Some patients are extremely nervous to get their blood drawn, so it is very important for a Phlebotomist to be gentle, reduce anxiety by explaining the procedure, keep the patient calm, and efficiently collect the specimen. Young children or infants will not understand the process; expertise is vital to collect the specimen quickly and accurately. In order to avoid causing infection, spreading disease, or experiencing other complications, Phlebotomists must keep their work area and instruments organized, clean, and sanitary.
A Phlebotomist’s daily routine and job responsibilities can vary depending on their work environment. The activities of the Phlebotomy Technician involve hands-on, direct patient care when performing blood draws. Phlebotomists also perform administrative duties such as labeling specimens, preparing them for further medical testing, completing paperwork, and using Information Technology as well as computer hardware and software programs to enter patient data.
Some examples of duties commonly performed by Phlebotomists include:
- Greeting customers, receiving written orders from physicians, verifying the identity of the patient, and confirming that medical records are correct
- Assembling tools and equipment which will be necessary for the procedure
- Briefly explaining procedure to patient to create an environment of trust and comfort
- Disinfecting areas for blood collection and treating collection areas after the procedure is performed
- Treating collection area, and labeling all tubes used for blood collection
- Inputting patient information into computer systems
- Assisting in recovery of patients with adverse reactions to the procedure
- Performing procedures such as blood draws, finger pricks, or blood sample tests
It is important for Phlebotomists to have certain personality traits and a strong work ethic. Because Phlebotomists have direct patient contact, it is important that they have the technical skills needed to perform their job, in addition to a positive attitude to help patients feel comfortable and reduce anxiety about the procedure.
Examples of important qualities for a Phlebotomist to possess include:
- Good Communication Skills -Phlebotomists communicate both verbally and in writing daily writing daily. They also review patient information to ensure identity of the patient as well as accuracy of the order, making good communication skills important for Phlebotomists.
- Ability to Multi-task– Phlebotomists perform procedures on patients of all ages, and some, especially young children, are afraid of needles. At times, a Phlebotomist will need to restrain the limb of a patient to collect a sample, while trying to keep the patient calm and still in order to avoid injury. This makes the ability to multitask paramount for Phlebotomists to master.
- Organization Skills–Phlebotomists have numerous collection devices and equipment and collect blood for multiple reasons, each with specific instructions. Organization is important to eliminate the possibility of collection error.
- Fine Motor Skills-Phlebotomists need fine motor skills to properly insert a needle into a vein that might be difficult to find and puncture.
Many healthcare professionals rely on Phlebotomists to follow strict protocols while performing their job. Misidentification or contamination of a specimen can have serious consequences, because medical professionals rely on blood test results to diagnose patients and monitor treatment progress.
Phlebotomists can work in a wide variety of healthcare facilities, including:
- Doctor’s Offices– Some doctors contract with laboratory companies to provide Phlebotomy services within their office as a convenience for their patients.
- Hospitals/Nursing Facilities– Phlebotomists who work in hospitals or nursing facilities make rounds throughout their shift, collecting blood samples from admitted patients or residents as requested by treating physicians within that facility.
- Free Standing Outpatient Laboratories– Phlebotomists who work in free standing outpatient laboratories collect specimens from patients who visit the facility with orders from their physician.
- Blood banks– Phlebotomists who work at blood banks screen and collect blood specimens from patients who are donating blood.
Some Phlebotomists chose to take their career one step further by obtain certification. You might be curious to know what the process is to become a Certified Phlebotomy Technician. Typically, Phlebotomists receive formal training from an Accredited Institution such as Arizona College. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates who wish to obtain certification can register to take the Registered Phlebotomy Technician Certification Examination, offered by the American Medical Technologists (AMT). Certification is a way to enhance your resume and to show competency in the field.
Phlebotomy Technicians are important members of the healthcare team. If the medical field interests you, you are organized, and are detail oriented, then a career in Phlebotomy could be for you! For more information about our Medical Assistant with Phlebotomy program, complete a form and an Arizona College representative will contact you. Take the first step toward your new career and contact Arizona College today!