Shadowing a DoctorOctober 6, 2014
Phlebotomists collect blood samples from patients, label them correctly and send them off to the laboratory for analysis and testing. The results of these blood tests provide a crucial means of diagnosing many diseases and illnesses. While you may not need any specialised qualifications to train as a phlebotomist, a first aid certificate and a driving licence may be helpful, depending on your workplace.
Detailed job description
Phlebotomists are specialist medical support professionals who are responsible for taking blood samples from patients for testing in the lab.
Some of the duties you would perform as a phlebotomist would include:
- Explaining the procedure to patients and reassure those patients who are anxious or nervous
- Inserting a hypodermic needle into the vein and draw off the blood into a tube
- Applying an appropriate dressing over the needle puncture spot
- Labelling the blood sample
- Delivering the sample to the appropriate laboratory with details of the analysis to be done
- Entering the data into the computer and recording all details
At all stages, a phlebotomist meticulously follows set procedures to avoid any chances of the samples getting mixed up or contaminated.
As a phlebotomist, you could work with patients with a wide range of conditions and across all ages, from babies and toddlers to teenagers, adults and geriatrics. With each age group, you would need to follow the appropriate set procedure.
When it comes to taking and handling blood samples, there are very explicit health and safety protocols and procedures in place that you will have to adhere to for your safety and that of your patients. Some work places may also require you to have a Hepatitis B immunisation.
Phlebotomy entry requirements & training
There are no specific qualifications to become a trainee phlebotomist. In most workplaces you will receive on the job training though a first aid certificate and some previous experience of working in a caring role could be very useful. Some employers may ask for GCSEs in subjects such as science, English and maths. Some jobs, where driving to patients’ homes is involved, will require you to have a driving licence.
On-the-job training could take up to six months and will usually include learning about:
- The different methods of collecting and labelling blood
- The role of phlebotomy within the pathology department
- Professional standards and codes of practice and why they are so crucial
- How to choose appropriate sites for taking blood samples
Upon completion of the training you may be awarded a Certificate of Competence. This certificate allows you to work without supervision.
Essential attributes for a phlebotomist
The most important requirement for anyone interested in working in phlebotomy is that they should not mind the sight of blood.
Other essential attributes include:
- Good written and oral communication skills
- Attention to detail
- The ability to follow instructions and procedures accurately
- Steady hand
- The ability to put anxious patients at ease
- An awareness of health and safety issues
- The ability to work calmly under pressure
Phlebotomists generally work regular hours from 9am to 5pm in hospitals, either in outpatient clinics or on wards.