Phlebotomist

Overview

Phlebotomists or phlebotomy technicians work directly with patients to collect quality blood samples for laboratory results. A quality sample is critical to producing quality test results. The phlebotomist must create an atmosphere of trust and confidence with patients, while drawing blood specimens in a skillful, safe and reliable manner. Because the phlebotomist works directly with the patient, any important information gathered during interaction with patients, or noticed during the procedure must be reported to the laboratory supervisor so it can be relayed to the patient’s nurse and/or physician.

Phlebotomy technicians who collect units of blood from volunteer donors can become certified as a Donor Phlebotomy Technician, offering specialized expertise to blood centers.

Details

Potential Employers

  • Hospital laboratories
  • Physician offices
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories
  • Blood donation services

Work Environment

Phlebotomy technicians perform blood draws, which is a procedure that causes many patients to feel anxious.  Phlebotomists must be able to work accurately under pressure, and have the ability to put patients at ease.  Technicians who work in hospitals may work days, evening, or nights and work schedules may include some weekend or holiday hours.  Both part-time and full-time work schedules are available.  Phlebotomists spend most of their work time on their feet, and those working in large facilities may walk a great deal as they travel from one department or floor to another, filling orders for blood draws.

Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not collet data on phlebotomists specifically, but includes them under the broader category of medical and clinical laboratory technologists.  That broader category is expected to see 14percent growth between 2008 and 2018, faster than the average for all occupations.  With the growing elderly population and an increasing number of people expected to access healthcare due to healthcare reform measures, it seems likely that there will be an increased need for phlebotomists.

Aptitudes

  • Ability to learn the principles and methods of phlebotomy
  • Ability to work according to exact standards
  • Ability to work with a variety of people
  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Good observational skills
  • Good manual dexterity, space and form perception, and ability to see differences in color

Education

Requirements

Most phlebotomists are trained on-the-job. Certification, while not required by all employers, does provide accreditation of capability and competency.  To meet the minimum requirements for certification, an individual must be a high school graduate with acceptable phlebotomy training or work experience, and must pass a national certification exam.  After initial certification, technicians must complete a certification maintenance program every three years.

Programs in Nebraska

  • Hospitals and laboratories provide on-the-job training.

Related / Links

Other careers that involve patient contact and relatively short training/education:

Professional Associations

For information about a career as a phlebotomy technician, scholarships, or certification:

Career information sources:  American Society for Clinical Pathology and  the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Spring 2000 and the Occupational Outlook Handook, 2010-2011 Edition, Clinical Laboratory Technologists, on the Internet at www.bls.gov