The practice of phlebotomy is one of the most diverse and rewarding professions in the healthcare field. With as little as one year of certification training, you can build a lifetime of job security with increasing responsibility and achievement. Though one of the oldest practices, phlebotomy has been a certified specialty only since the 1970s. Clinics and hospitals are looking for professional phlebotomists and more and more students are interested in certification courses.
A typical training program requires 45 hours of classroom work and an additional 100 hours of supervised clinical experience. Classes will cover medical terminology, algebra, English, computer technology, anatomy and physiology, and phlebotomy skills and procedures. The practice of drawing blood is much more than learning how to make a venipuncture. You need to know how to interpret a doctor’s lab request, how to differentiate among tubes and needle types, and how to handle patients.
Learning what to do if something goes wrong is as important as knowing how to ensure that everything goes right. Not every blood draw goes smoothly and easily. Phlebotomy is a great career for detail orientated, rule-abiding individuals who like to work at the top of their game every day.
Phlebotomy does not require a technician to analyze lab results. Phlebotomists are responsible for ensuring that the blood sample is drawn correctly, stored, labeled, and delivered according to protocol. These steps are key to producing an accurate analysis once it gets to the lab. The technician is responsible for following routine procedures using specialized equipment. Handling evacuated collection tubes, keeping all materials sterile, and disposing of used needles are critical parts of the job responsibilities.
It is important to have a good command of English because the phlebotomy technician must be able to read and understand the doctor’s instructions for the blood draw and they also have to fill out a requisition form with every blood sample submitted to the lab. A requisition form contains all the vital information necessary such as the patient’s name and identification number, the physician’s complete name, the date and time of the collection, and the tests to be run.
Following precise procedural steps ensures that no mistakes are made in labeling samples and correctly identifying patients. A good phlebotomy training program will drill these best practices in to the students’ minds so that they become second nature. Phlebotomists should have a certain amount of people-skills before entering the program since this is one skill that is hard to teach.
Once certified, a phlebotomist has a choice of what kind of environment to work in. Technicians are needed in clinics, where blood draws are part of doctors’ orders for purposes of diagnosis. There are blood banks – many of which take their equipment on the road to different locations to make blood donations easier for volunteers. Some phlebotomists choose to work in laboratories researching disease and pathologies. It is this choice within the profession of phlebotomy that makes it such an attractive career choice for so many.
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