Phlebotomy is one of the fastest rising health care professions. It is more technically difficult than the duties a Certified Nurse’s Aide often undertakes, and is also more dangerous. It is, however, a well-paid and highly respected profession. In fact, a good phlebotomist can make or break a patient’s hospital stay. What, exactly, is a phlebotomy job description? What is a typical day like, what kind of training is necessary, and what is the pay rate?
Phlebotomist Job Description
A phlebotomist deals solely with blood; collection, analysis, and the interpretation of test results. They are trained to draw blood from a vein; in everyone from small children to elderly people. They are also trained to ask for help if a patient has inadequate veins, or has had a medical procedure that makes drawing directly from a vein difficult or impossible. They are required to know all the infection control procedures due to the fact that blood is a highly infectious substance, as well as standard sterilization procedures. Phlebotomists are also part janitors, as they must keep their work stations clean and free of blood. Perhaps their most important, and most difficult, duty is that of keeping patients calm and still; even those who get squeamish or light-headed at the sight of needles or blood.
Typical Day in The Life of a Phlebotomist
There really is not much typical about the job, and specific phlebotomist duties depend a great deal upon whether the phlebotomist is working at a hospital, physician’s office or laboratory. For instance, someone working in a hospital may have to do rounds very early in the morning in order to get blood from people before they eat or exercise, while a physician’s office typically does not see patients that early in the morning. However, there are some phlebotomist job duties that remain the same. Materials must be gathered, checked for any dirt or defects, and arranged in a way that encourages ease of use. Next, orders are checked, and the patients are prepared for a blood draw. In some cases, the procedure must be explained before hand. Tourniquets are applied, the needle is inserted and the blood is drawn. Basic infection control must be observed through every step. The patient is checked for any signs of problems, and if found fine are sent on their way. Blood samples are very carefully labelled, and sent off to a lab. Sometime the phlebotomist is part of the analysis team, and will spend time in the lab looking over the samples for signs of infection or disease, and can perform tests for any number of things.
Training involved in becoming a phlebotomist varies by state as well as where one desires to work. Some workplaces require degrees, while others only ask for a certification. In degree situations, one must pass the required courses for any college degree, i.e. English, Psychology, Biology, Social Studies, etc, in addition to the phlebotomy classes themselves which typically are divided into two sections. The actual work-related courses take place in the classroom as well as in clinical settings where a perspective employee can develop and test their skills on actual patients. Phlebotomy training is provided in most universities, community colleges, and trade schools. The cost of the training is dependant upon where it is received, but they can cost upwards of a thousand dollars.
Phlebotomist Pay Rate
The job outlook for phlebotomists is, frankly, amazing. The job continuously has new openings and even all the people flooding the field have not managed to dent the need for new employees. Pay rates differ for the various types of offices, but median ranges are as follows:
- Hospitals – $32,000 annually, or about $15/hr
- Laboratories and Physician’s offices – $30,000 annually or about $14/hr
Those are good salaries, but higher levels of education and experience can raise these numbers considerably. Specializations and concentrated knowledge bases like infectious diseases can also raise a salary.
Phlebotomy is a wonderful, well-paying job for anyone who does not mind the sight of blood or the use of a needle. It requires a great deal of care and caution, as well as technical and people skills, but is worth it in the end. With a pay rate of upwards of thirty thousand dollars a year, and the ability to earn much more, the cost of training is like a drop in the bucket. It is comparable to other health care certifications, after all. With the addition of job security and the secure knowledge that these jobs will continue to open up, there is no better chance to take.