Are you interested in a career in phlebotomy? Let’s quickly review what phlebotomy is about and how you can qualify to work in the field. A phlebotomist draws blood for laboratory analysis or for future transfusion. This is done by inserting a needle into a patient and drawing blood into containers. There are several ways to do this. The most common is venipuncture, in which a needle is inserted directly into a patient’s vein, and blood is drawn into a series of sample tubes. Capillary collection can be used in special situations, particularly with infants. A simple skin prick, usually in the finger, can be used to collect small samples of blood.
Once collected, blood must be labeled and documented. This is done by placing labels on the blood samples (which usually are in tubes with color-coded stoppers indicating what additives have been placed in the blood) and filling out a requisition form indicating the name of the patient from whom the samples have been extracted and the nature of the laboratory analysis that is to be performed on the samples.
The blood must then be sent to a laboratory for analysis (or to a blood bank for storage). Often, the phlebotomist will be working in part of the laboratory, so the trip the blood makes will not be a long one, but it is still important that the phlebotomist follow proper procedures for assuring that the blood ends up in the hands of the parties responsible for analyzing it. The routing slip is an important part of this process. In other cases, the blood may have to travel to a laboratory in a separate building or even in a separate city. It may even be necessary to ship the blood by mail, or other courier service, to the proper destination.
Phlebotomists must follow rigorous safety procedures in the handling of blood samples. Blood can spread dangerous infections and must be handled with care, using proper equipment and well-established methods.
Phlebotomists must also be good at working with people, especially patients who may be nervous at the prospect of having blood drawn or children who are frightened by the whole medical experience and who need special handling and supervision.