Career as a Phlebotomist
Phlebotomy is the process of piercing the flesh with a needle in order to enter a vein and extract blood from the body. This is also known as venipuncture. The terminology comes from the Greek word “phlebo” meaning vein, and “tom” meaning cut. Most often the blood is used for diagnostic (testing) purposes and at times this process can be done to replace blood loss (transfusion). Regular phlebotomy is undergone by patients who have too much iron in their blood or are producing too many red blood cells. Removal of blood decreases the excess level of iron in the red blood cells.
You may have faced a situation in which you needed to donate blood, or perhaps took part in a blood group test. You may have realized that you did not experience any discomfort or pain when the needle was inserted into the vein to draw blood, or even while it was being removed. The person who administered this procedure to you was, in fact, a Phlebotomist trained in phlebotomy.
A Phlebotomist is a person who has the ability to find a vein beneath the skin, inject the needle and extract blood with ease, even within seconds. They also monitor blood pressure and pulse in situations like blood transfusions or blood donation at the blood banks. Phlebotomists are integral and vital members of the healthcare team, as the blood they collect is used for diagnostic testing which helps the physicians to make informed decisions. They also act as life guardians with their services at the blood banks encouraging blood donation campaigns.
Phlebotomy is safe when done by a well-trained professional. The phlebotomist bears in mind factors such as the bruising of the skin where it is punctured, inflammation of veins, and possible chances of infection at the punctured sites while performing venipunctures or skin punctures. The skin puncture is done using finger sticks wherein small blood samples need to be collected. In the case of infants, a heel stick is used. At times it may be required to draw blood from arteries or capillary beds; a specimen which is easily done by these trained professionals. Phlebotomists may at times be required to ascertain stool and urine sample collection and testing. Phlebotomists do not administer drugs or any intravenous fluids that require injections.
In the United States the phlebotomists are unlicensed medical care professionals, except in the state of California. In California, licensing is mandatory for phlebotomists in order to work with any clinical laboratory, hospital, research institution, public health clinics or blood bank.
Those who have undergone vocational training, graduated in phlebotomy or spent approximately two years in the field should enroll in a certification course. This will help with proficiency in human anatomy, technical skills, interpersonal skills, lab safety rules, as well as compliance with CDC & OSHA requirements. In addition, many other pre-requisites such as blood collection techniques, specimen record management and data entry maintenance for the purposes of report generation, will be covered.
The Phlebotomist is an important member of the medical team and this fact is evident in compensation statistics. The median salary drawn in the U.S. is $29,040. Coupled with the pay, is the flexible work hours that make this profession even more exciting.