July 26, 2015

Working with People

As a phlebotomist, you will meet many people, both fellow laboratory workers and patients. Working well with these people, especially with the patients from whom you will draw blood, will be an essential part of your job, and this aspect of the work should not be ignored in favor of purely technical skills.

Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of having blood drawn. They may fear the sight of blood or the loss of blood, or simply be wary of the pain that they believe will be caused by a needle. This will be especially true of children, who will have little experience with phlebotomy and will be easily scared at the sight of your laboratory equipment. It is your job to put these people at ease so that they can relax and be cooperative. If you have natural people skills, you may find this to be the easiest part of your phlebotomist career. If not, then it may prove more difficult than learning blood drawing and other laboratory skills.

Fortunately, people skills can be acquired. Short courses of phlebotomy training may do little to help you learn how to work with patients, but more extensive curricula and actual laboratory experience under the supervision of caring doctors and nurses can go a long way toward helping you develop an affinity for dealing with patients in a calming and reassuring manner. Choose a mentor whose people skills impress you, and study how they interact with their patients. You will pick up valuable insights that will serve you well, not only in the laboratory, but in your private life, too.

One thing you will need to do with your patients is to interview them. Before drawing blood, you will, at the very least, need to take their medical papers and make a positive identification that this is the person whose blood you need to draw. If you work at patients’ bedsides in a hospital, it may be necessary to check the patient’s identification bracelet and determine their identity verbally as well. This will prevent errors in treatment or confusion in labeling the blood samples that you take. Incorrectly labeled samples are worse than useless. They can cause misdiagnosis and have a negative impact on the patient’s treatment, an outcome you must strive to avoid at all costs.