Healthcare is perhaps the most in-demand field today. It is an industry known for its bright job outlook and unwavering job security – in fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that healthcare is on its way to becoming the highest employment sector in the United States economy! And one of the fastest growing careers within healthcare is that of the phlebotomist.
If you’ve always been interested in a healthcare career, but haven’t had the time or money to commit to medical school, phlebotomy is an excellent option for you. It’s one of the fastest growing careers – with over 30,000 new positions expected to open up nationwide by 2026 – and one of the fastest routes towards a career in the booming healthcare field. Today, you can become a phlebotomist in just a few months (not years), after completing a single-semester, postsecondary phlebotomy training program.
Phlebotomy is without a doubt a promising field to get into, but the question still remains: What does a phlebotomist do? And does the job description align with your interests, skillsets, and career goals? Let’s find out. In this article, Goodwin College will walk you the typical phlebotomist job description, their daily duties, as well as what it takes to land this type of job today.
What is a Phlebotomist?
If you’ve ever had blood drawn, whether for your annual physical or for a Red Cross donation, you’ve encountered a phlebotomist before. A phlebotomist is a trained laboratory technician who collects blood samples from patients, either for donation, lab testing, or transfusions.
Phlebotomists are skilled experts in venipuncture, which is the process of locating and piercing a vein to draw blood. This is the core of their job description, but phlebotomists may also use other methods such as dermal puncture or artery collection in their day-to-day careers.
Typically, phlebotomists work under the supervision of a medical laboratory scientist. However, phlebotomists are usually the more front-facing professionals, constantly greeting and interacting with all patients who enter the clinical lab. Phlebotomists can work in facilities such as:
- Medical clinics
- Insurance companies
- Nursing homes
- Outpatient laboratories
- Physician’s offices
What Does the Phlebotomist Job Description Entail?
Phlebotomy is critical to the medical field. Without it, physicians, nurses, and other clinical professionals would not be able to collect and assess patients’ blood samples. Blood tests are used to diagnose illness, to evaluate the effectiveness of medications, and to determine whether patients are in good health. Here are some of the day-to-day duties of the phlebotomist:
- Collect blood samples – To collect blood from an arm vein, the phlebotomist must properly apply a tourniquet to the upper arm to slow blood flow; locate the proper vein to draw blood; and disinfect the small area where the needle will be inserted. Phlebotomists may also collect blood samples through finger pricks, which can be used to determine a patient’s blood type.
- Ensure sanitization of their instruments and work area – Before working with a patient, phlebotomists must ensure that all their equipment is properly sanitized before use. This also involves making sure instruments are properly stored and transport of equipment is handled carefully. To keep patients safe, phlebotomists must observe strict safety protocols on the job.
- Ensure proper labeling of samples – All blood samples look the same, so phlebotomists must carefully identify and label each one properly with patient information. In order to do this accurately, phlebotomists must verify each patient or donor’s identity.
- Enter patient information into a database – In addition to labeling each blood sample, phlebotomists must also ensure that the patients’ information (insurance, billing, medical history, primary care physician, etc.) are all entered into the computer system.
- Make the patient experience as comfortable as possible – Unlike you, not everyone can stand the sight of blood! Many people are scared of needles, too. Because patients are often uncomfortable having their blood drawn, it is phlebotomists’ responsibility to try to put each person’s nerves at ease and make them comfortable for the few minutes of their stay.
How Can You Meet (and Exceed) the Phlebotomist Job Description Requirements?
To become a phlebotomist, you have to be okay with needles and blood. But beyond the obvious, there are several other skills that you will need to fulfill the phlebotomist job description.
Goodwin College is a leading phlebotomy certificate program in Connecticut, and we have close relationships with healthcare employers throughout the state. So, when we talk about must-have phlebotomy skills, we’re talking about the very skills that employers are actively looking for in candidates today:
- Dexterity – Phlebotomists work with their hands, and therefore must have good hand-eye coordination and the ability to stay calm under pressure. Phlebotomists must work well and efficiently with small needles and equipment, and stay focused on each patient, one at a time. Phlebotomists see a lot of patients a day, so staying focused could mean a matter of keeping patients safe and avoiding cross-contamination.
- Compassion – Getting blood drawn is not always comfortable, and patients will be in there for different reasons. It’s important to be sensitive to patients’ needs, their comfort levels, and ensure they have the most pleasant experience possible.
- Communication Skills – In addition to compassion, phlebotomists must be able to explain what they are doing to patients in a calm and understanding way, to help ease any nerves and to make patients feel comfortable with what is going on.
Finally, phlebotomists must have the technical skills and clinical training needed to perform their day to day tasks accurately and safely. This call all be learned in a phlebotomy program. Goodwin College’s phlebotomy classes, for example, teach students how to conduct venous and capillary specimen collection effectively, perform basic laboratory testing, and demonstrate lab safety techniques.
Goodwin students also complete a phlebotomy internship in an active health care facility or clinical laboratory – giving you the opportunity to put your learned skills to practice on real patients.
Ready to dive in? Contact Goodwin College at 800-889-3282 to learn more.