A phlebotomist is a medical professional whose main job is drawing blood.
This is also called the practice of venipuncture. Any time that you need blood drawn for lab work, tests, or even when you donate blood, there’s a good chance it is being done by a fully-trained phlebotomist. But, what does blood draw or venipuncture training involve?
To fully understand the answer to that question, it’s important to know what phlebotomy training involves. To get a certification to draw blood, individuals must complete a phlebotomy training course from start to finish.
In fact, the training course itself won’t cover certification. Additional training will be needed to achieve a phlebotomy certificate. However, most students do opt for that, since many states now require a certificate to practice venipuncture in the field.
Depending on the school or institution you attend, most phlebotomy training programs last anywhere from 4-8 months. During that time, two basic areas are covered: Classroom training, and active venipuncture training.
What Does Venipuncture Training Involve?
During phlebotomy training, much of the work is done in a classroom setting. Here, students will learn things like:
- Blood composition
- Lab safety
- Blood-drawing procedures
These pieces give phlebotomy students the building blocks of what it takes to become a licensed phlebotomist. While studying blood draw itself, students will also be required to take blood draw training.
That training consists of actually performing successful venipunctures a certain amount of times, to complete the program. This can range within anywhere from 25 sticks, up to 100, depending on the training program.
What Does Blood Draw Training Involve?
During these active venipunctures, students will be practicing how to find a vein quickly, how to use the needle to draw blood from that vein efficiently, and how to make their patient as comfortable as possible. Drawing blood, however, is only the first part of a phlebotomist’s job.
Venipuncture training also consists of preparing the blood properly (in the right vials), storing it correctly, and sending it to the correct department for testing. That’s why it’s extremely important for phlebotomists to know lab safety and lab procedures.
Different vials of blood are designated to mean different things. A phlebotomist needs to know what those vials mean, and where they are going. Proper care and handling are crucial once blood is drawn, to ensure it doesn’t get contaminated, and to make sure it ends up where it needs to be.
Obviously drawing blood from an obese patient can be more difficult. This is because it’s harder to locate the veins.
What is the Phlebotomy Order of Draw?
The correct collection, storage, and transportation of blood are important, so the phlebotomy order of draw was developed. Even a small error could disrupt a patient’s treatment, or give someone incorrect results.
To ensure things like that don’t happen, this publication was put together by the Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI).
The order of draw uses colors to determine what the proper order should be, to make it easier for students to remember. It is determined based on any additives that need to be included, or any special instructions that need to be given during the blood draw itself.
The order of draw is as follows:
- Yellow: Blood cultures – this preserves microorganisms within the blood.
- Light Blue: Light blue tubes are also called coagulation tubes. They contain sodium citrate and are used for blood coagulation tests.
- Plain Red: The most common color for venipuncture. A plain red tube contains no additives.
- Plastic Red: This is a clot activator, separating the serum of the blood and causing actual blood clots to occur.
- Gold, Red or Gray: Another type of clot activator, known as a serum separator tube (SST).
- Green: Vials with green tops have lithium-heparin, which works as an anticoagulant.
- Lavender or Purple: These tubes also work as anticoagulants, and help to remove calcium from the blood.
- Gray: These tubes contain sodium fluoride, which can help to keep the glucose in a blood sample preserved for up to five days.
The Purpose of the Order of Draw
Again, the order of draw was developed to avoid things like cross-contamination. Patients with certain illnesses or who need specific lab work done have to have the proper draws to get the correct results.
Different tubes must be used for collection in the draw’s order to make sure all patients are safe and can achieve the lab results they need.
There are several tricks phlebotomists use to memorize the order of draw, but whatever you use, make sure you know it inside and out before you complete your training.
It’s an enormous part of venipuncture safety. It is something phlebotomists put into practice every single day, and it never becomes less useful in any way.
What Is Required to Become a Phlebotomist?
Phlebotomy is one of the fastest- rising medical careers for a reason. It’s considered an entry-level position, but can turn into a lifelong career, depending on your skills and dedication.
In just a few short months, you can learn all the skills necessary to be a quality phlebotomist, including how to draw blood properly.
During training, venipuncture will likely be performed on your fellow students or volunteers. The number of successful sticks you’ll need to complete may be different depending on your location.
After you have completed your training, you may want to move onto certification. It’s a shorter period, but obtaining a phlebotomy certificate will not just improve your skills but also make you more desirable when applying for jobs.
So, what does blood draw or venipuncture training involve? It requires an ability to make a patient feel comfortable and relaxed. Second, it involves learning the correct lab and safety procedures, including the order of draw. Finally, it involves learning how to successfully stick a patient, and draw the desired amount of blood.
Phlebotomists are extremely important to the medical field. Without them, many illnesses and ailments may go unnoticed or undiagnosed. And it all starts with knowing how to perform venipuncture successfully.