What is a phlebotomist or Phlebotomy Technician
A phlebotomy technician is a medical technician whose main duty is to extract blood from a patient. A phlebotomy technician may be employed in a hospital, in a clinic, a private practice, as well as at laboratories, blood banks, and blood donation centers and phlebotomy training and phlebotomy certification is required.
A phlebotomy technicians’ primary task is to draw blood from patients. To do this, they must first apply numbing ointment to the patient to lessen the discomfort and pain of the needle. They must also make sure that the patient has followed any physician’s orders before the test, such as being asked to refrain from eating food or drink for a certain length of time before the appointment. Then, the phlebotomy technician will find the easiest vein to take blood from and extract the amount required by the physician or other authority in charge of the technician such as a cardiovascular technologist. The sample must be properly labeled, safely stored, and delivered to its intended location.
Although drawing blood may seem simple, a phlebotomy technician must be skilled to draw blood as quickly, safely, and painlessly as possible. This requires precise skill and a keen eye when handling needles and extracting blood. A tech should have the knowledge and skill to efficiently extract blood on their first try, but inexperienced or poorly trained technicians may find this task difficult. However, the ability to judge the location and size of a patient’s veins—and how easy it will be to draw blood from them—is a key aspect of any phlebotomy technician’s job. This is especially important when dealing with young patients or other patients who may be prone to distress when their blood is being taken.
In addition to taking blood samples, they must know how to safely store the sample and label it properly. This might require knowledge of the medical and patient codes in the hospital, or at laboratories where the blood sample may be headed. Most phlebotomists are also in charge of their own paperwork and must fill out forms and reports after taking samples from patients, to be delivered to physicians or other medical authorities. Some employers may also ask phlebotomy technicians to do clerical work, such as answering phones or other reception work.
Phlebotomy technicians jobs may vary depending on their work setting. Some hospitals have phlebotomy departments which consist of testing laboratories and a “clinic” where patients are sent to give blood samples. Clinics may also have specific departments similar to hospitals. Some phlebotomy technicians may work in Emergency Departments, where they may be required to take samples under high stress situations.
However, most technicians are employed in regular hospital and clinic departments, where they don’t receive emergency patients. Still, the profession can be considered fast paced because of the prompt sample taking requested by physicians or other medical authorities.
Other techs may seek employment at blood banks or other blood donation centers. Blood banks and donation centers may require technicians to screen donors as well as draw blood donations from them.
The training required to work as a phlebotomy technician varies from state to state, as well as from employer to employer. Some states require that a phlebotomy technician have an accredited certificate or degree from an accredited program or school. Others do not have any such requirements.
Most employers, regardless of state laws, prefer their phlebotomy technicians to have a certificate or degree from an accredited program or school. A phlebotomy technician certificate can be achieved in six to twelve months, depending on a student’s course load and the intensity of the certificate program.
The typical phlebotomy technician certification program will include the study of mathematics, venipuncture, arterial puncture, common blood collection procedures, medical safety rules and laws, computer skills, and lab procedures. Certification programs should also include clinical practice.
Degree programs for phlebotomy technicians are offered by some schools as well. A degree program will typically consist of all areas of study for the certification program, in addition to courses covering medical ethics, medical office procedures, and human anatomy.
A phlebotomy technician should have excellent hand-eye coordination. They need to be able to accurately draw blood and cause a minimal amount of discomfort to their patients. A good sense of mathematics is another requirement due to the precise amount of blood needed for samples. Experience with computers and minimal data entry are also important skills to have, because most employers require technicians to perform their own clerical work. This requirement is expected to hold more importance as employers are increasingly consolidating hospital positions—for example, getting rid of strictly secretarial positions in favor of employees who can perform clinical and clerical duties.
Good communication skills and excellent interpersonal skills are an important requirement for any phlebotomy technician, because they must deal with frequent one-on-one encounters with their patients. Because the situation is, at the very least, uncomfortable for most of their patients, they must be able to retain a professional and calm demeanor. Phlebotomists must also know how to deal with all types of patients, including the elderly and young children.
Salary & Prospective job market
The outlook for employment as a phlebotomy technician is good, and expected to rise steadily in the next two decades, as medical testing (and thus, blood sampling) rises. Employment for phlebotomy technicians at hospitals is expected to rise more than other places of employment, due to the need for on-sight blood drawing and sampling.
The annual pay for a phlebotomy technician will vary depending on where they work and how often they work. A full-time phlebotomy technician can expect an annual salary of anywhere between $18,000-$45,000, depending on their location, experience, performance, and level of certification. Because there is such a high variance in the annual salaries of phlebotomy technicians, it is prudent to research the typical pay of phlebotomy technicians in your local area and state. This will give you a more realistic outlook on your potential salary earnings.