How to be a Phlebotomist | What is a Phlebotomist

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  • How to Become a Phlebotomist

    2015-10-21

    Are you an organized person? Are you comfortable around needles and drawing blood? Do you like the idea of steady hours in the health care industry?

    If you are looking for an in-demand career1; one where you get to interact with patients, but where you normally don't have to deal with trauma, heavy lifting or excessively long working hours, then phlebotomy may be right for you. 

    What is a Phlebomomist?

    Phlebotomists are trained technicians who draw blood for tests, transfusions, research and blood/platelet donations. They make sure to draw the right amount of blood, and they are responsible to properly label all vials. 

    An ideal phlebotomist is organized, efficient, good at finding veins, and compassionate. (Sometimes they have to reassure patients who are uncomfortable around needles, explaining what they are doing.) 

    What Do Phlebotomists Do on a Daily Basis?

    Phlebotomists work at medical and diagnostic laboratories, hospitals, blood donor centers, or doctors' offices. About 40 percent of phlebotomists work in hospitals; about a quarter work in labs and the rest in physicians' offices and ambulatory health care services. 

    Depending on what time the office opens, they usually start work early. For example, they may start at 7 AM or, in a hospital setting, as early as 5 AM. (This is because some people who need blood work done, such as Type 1 diabetics, have been fasting and need to test early so that they can eat. A patient going into surgery at 6AM may need a last-minute test.)

    During a phlebotomist's workday, he or she may see several dozen patients, so there's a lot of variety. Usually, the patients come in to the phlebotomist's office, but sometimes a "roving" phlebotomist will go to various doctors' offices in the same building or complex, drawing blood for patients.

    Phlebotomists need to be comfortable not just with needles and blood, but also vials, test tubes and databases. 

    Before a patient comes in, a phlebotomist will look over a patient's chart to see what tests need to be done. Based on that information, the phlebotomist makes sure he or she has all the necessary equipment, including the right number of vials and tubes, to complete the session.

    Once the patient walks in, phlebotomists need to verify the patient's identity and then enter the information into the computer's database. 

    Next, the phlebotomist draws blood. A well-trained, attentive, detail-oriented phlebotomist inflicts as little pain as possible on the patient. This takes practice, time, and care, plus the desire to excel at one's job. 

    The phlebotomist then labels all the tubes and double-checks them to ensure that all are marked correctly and not contaminated.

    This process is repeated throughout the day. The phlebotomist also needs to ensure that all equipment is maintained, sterilized and assembled correctly so that infection is avoided.

    What Kind of Demand is there for Phlebotomists?

    Job demand is high for trained phlebotomists. Think about it: 75 million American baby boomers are aging, with about three million of them hitting retirement age every year.3  Add to that the fact that four million babies are born in the US every year.4  

    All of them - babies, boomers, and everyone in between - need healthcare at some point. And nearly all of them require blood tests.

    That means the already high demand for trained phlebotomists is going to increase. Demand going into 2022 is rising by double digits, 27 percent, which is much faster than average.1

    How Much Do Phlebotomists Make?

    As for pay scale, annual salaries in 2013 ranged from a high of $43,190 to a low of $21,760, with those in the middle making about $30,150 per year or $14.50 per hour.2

    How Long Does It Take to Become a Phlebotomist?

    It takes anywhere from two to six months to learn how to safely handle blood, dispose of used sharps, prevent sample contamination and correctly draw blood.  

    With demand for jobs expected to keep rising, if you're compassionate, detail-oriented and don't faint at the sight of blood, phlebotomy may be the perfect career for you.

    Please keep in mind employment and income cannot be guaranteed by any educational institution for students or graduates. Additionally, salary data cited in this article is based on median data provided by the United States Department of Labor, does not reflect starting or entry level salaries, and can vary widely based on geographic location.


    1http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/phlebotomists.htm
    2http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/phlebotomist 
    3http://www.hhnmag.com/Magazine/2014/Jan/cover-story-baby-boomers
    4http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/births.htm