It might not be a career field you’re familiar with, but chances are high you’ve seen a phlebotomist at some point in your life. They’re the people who draw blood and make sure it’s labeled correctly before it goes off to your doctor or the lab. Let’s dig deeper into what phlebotomy is all about and how this career field continues to grow!
What Do Phlebotomists Do?
The heart of what phlebotomists do is draw blood. This could be done for testing, transfusions, research or blood donations. It’s important phlebotomists understand the purpose for the blood draw so they take the correct amount and label it properly.
Where Do Phlebotomists Work?
Phlebotomists working in a hospital might be called to draw blood from a patient’s room, or they might work in the lab drawing blood from patients who come to them. Since phlebotomists spend their entire day drawing blood, you can be sure they’ll know the best way to find your vein and get what they need as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Medical and Diagnostic Labs
If you’ve ever had to go to a lab for a blood test, you’ve probably seen a phlebotomist. Before drawing your blood, your phlebotomist will match the laboratory requisition form to specimen tubes. They might also enter patient and specimen information into a database.
Blood Donor Centers
At blood donor centers, phlebotomists need to determine donor suitability from interview results, vital signs and medical history. They may also conduct hemoglobin tests to ensure donor iron levels are normal and calibrate machines used for things like plasma collection.
It might be hard to tell if you’re seeing a nurse, medical assistant or phlebotomist at your doctors’ office. Each role is responsible for drawing blood, but phlebotomists specialize in doing so. They might also transport specimens from your doctors’ office to the lab for testing.
How Easy is it to Get a Phlebotomist Job?
The good news is that the phlebotomy field is growing. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 25% national between 2014-2024 1, much faster than average for all occupations! But whether or not you’ll be able to get a job depends on you. Being on time for your externship hours and conducting yourself in a professional manner while at externship are ways you can show potential employers you’re a good candidate for open phlebotomy positions.
What Kind of Education Do I Need to Become a Phlebotomist?
In some states, phlebotomists are required to be certified to work in the field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, phlebotomists typically enter this occupation with a postsecondary nondegree award 2 from a phlebotomy program 3 and most employers prefer those who have earned a professional certification. In some states, phlebotomists are required to be certified to work in the field. Phlebotomy programs include education in anatomy and physiology and teach students how to collect and process blood.
Once you have completed your certificate program and attain professional certification, you’re on your way to your career as a phlebotomist!
1 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/phlebotomists.htm#tab-1. Data reflects a national projected percentage change in employment from 2014-2024 and may not reflect local economic conditions.
2 While some employers may not require this level of education, it can help better prepare you for the responsibilities of this role.
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Phlebotomists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/phlebotomists.htm (visited March 23, 2017). https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/31-9097.00