What is a Phlebotomy Technician?

There is much more to working as a phlebotomy technician than simply drawing blood. Knowing what the job involves can help you decide if it is right for you.

The phlebotomist must be good with people. This means truly liking people, as well as having good interpersonal skills. In some medical settings, you will find yourself working with adults of all ages, children, babies, and the elderly. They may be strong and healthy, only in need of routine bloodworm, or frail, with a variety of serious medical conditions. The people you deal with may range from difficult and obnoxious to wonderfully cooperative, or extremely timid and fearful. You need excellent “people skills” in order to deal with them all effectively. This means being kind and compassionate, yet professional. You need to be able to easily communicate to all kinds of patients that you are there to do a job for the sake of their health, and that you care about them as human beings.

A phlebotomist must be precise and detail-oriented. The most casual mistake or error can result in disaster. Your accuracy must cover everything from selecting the right piece of equipment to making sure a tube is labeled correctly and promptly.

A good phlebotomist is comfortable in a medical setting, and is reasonably concerned about general health. The person who is queasy around bodily fluids, does not take cleanliness seriously, or dislikes medical environments, is not a good match for a job in phlebotomy.

All of these aspects of a phlebotomy job can help you see if it is appropriate for you. You will need to calm fearful patients, and reason with those who are difficult. From venipuncture to collecting blood samples to readying blood for the laboratory, you must do each step correctly. From washing your hands prior to putting on gloves, to disposing of needles in the right container, everything from preparation to clean-up must be done correctly, each and every time.

How do you know whether you have what it takes to succeed as a phlebotomy technician? You can start by noting whether these characteristics describe you. These are points you may not read in books about phlebotomy. They go beyond the education and experience you gain in training, and focus on your personality, preferences, and way of life. You may not have thought of phlebotomy as a way of life before. However, the personal characteristics you bring to the job are very relevant. They determine how well you will do on an everyday basis at work. Everything from how well you interact with your patients to how clean you keep your work environment depend more on your personality than the facts you learn in your training.

Phlebotomists are needed in a variety of workplaces. Hospitals of all sizes, private and public health clinics, physicians’ offices, long-term care facilities for disabled or elderly persons, and blood banks, all require the services of phlebotomists on a regular basis. The setting where you work influences the kinds of people you will be working with in your everyday life. This point is even more important than salary. Being able to communicate well with your patients is the foundation of being able to do a good job.

If you have the personality that is a match to this line of work, gaining the qualifications will be a positive experience. You know you have something very special in your future, and are prepared to work toward it. A short-term training program can be completed within a matter of months. The certification exam is not nearly as difficult as you may anticipate, if you put the effort into preparing for it. In many cases, it takes less than a year to proceed from your first day of class to having your certification in your hand. The before and after are parts you need to think about, clearly and thoroughly. You are bringing your love of people and your desire to help them from your own life experience to your new job. Not everyone possesses these characteristics. They will make your job easier, and lead you to be appreciated by your patients and your staff.

Knowing how to perform a procedure correctly, and which particular instruments to use, are amongst the technical aspects of phlebotomy. The human aspects are even more rewarding. When you prepare a patient for blood testing, you are doing much more than a medical procedure. You are letting him know you care about his life, and about him as a person. If you can relate to this, you will definitely be an asset to the medical community where you work. The opportunity to become a phlebotomy technician is one you cannot afford to miss. It is a career where you will shine at your very best.

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