Phlebotomy is becoming one of the most highly sought-after careers.
As lucrative a career as it may seem, there are many people who don’t fully know all of the responsibilities and duties a phlebotomist has on any given day. From the first day of training, to ten years on the job, or even using it as a stepping stone for something else in the medical arena
It’s a career that may seem easy to get into (especially when it’s in such high demand), but it’s important to make sure you know all of the duties required as a phlebotomist before you fully take the plunge.
Let’s take a closer look at the responsibilities of a phlebotomist, from initial training, to potential certification, to a typical day on the job.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are the Duties of a Phlebotomist During Training?
- 1.1 What Are the Duties of a Qualified Phlebotomist?
- 1.2 What Are the Skills Needed to be a Phlebotomist?
What Are the Duties of a Phlebotomist During Training?
While training to become a phlebotomist will take you through a fairly quick program, there are things to keep in mind before you decide it’s the career for you.
When you start your training courses, either in a classroom setting or online, you should expect it to take from 4 to 8 months. There are some digital exceptions to this, since you can essentially go at your own pace, but this can sometimes mean it can take even longer, depending on the time and energy you put into the online coursework.
In training, you will be expected to learn the different systems of the body (respiratory system, nervous system, skeletal system, etc.), as well as patient interaction, lab procedures and safety, and how to draw blood.
You will also be expected to know the lab equipment, and how to report findings to the physician on staff when it comes to any possible diagnoses from the blood you’ve collected.
Your responsibilities begin here, as soon as you’ve made the choice to take the next step toward becoming a phlebotomist. These are responsibilities you’ll need to carry with you throughout your entire career in phlebotomy, and it’s important not to forget the lessons you learned in training.
Many people who go through training will go one step further and attempt to become fully certified in phlebotomy, which takes about another four weeks of coursework. While this isn’t required, more and more establishments are hiring candidates who are certified over those who aren’t.
So while it isn’t necessarily a responsibility or duty of the training program, it’s a good idea if you’re looking for a job right away. It can also help to give you more confidence and peace of mind when it actually comes time to find a job.
Throughout your training, you’ll also be expected to practicing your sticking skills with a needle. Most training programs have different requirements for this, ranging anywhere from 50-100 sticks under supervision before you’re able to pass the certification.
However, the more hands-on experience you can get, the better you’ll end up being at your job responsibilities, so don’t shy away from this part of it.
What Are the Duties of a Qualified Phlebotomist?
Once you’ve completed your training and certification if you’ve chosen to go that route, the next step is to follow through on the responsibilities of your job. Because phlebotomists are in such high demand, hence the excellent pay, in all likelihood, it should be fairly easy to get a job quickly, as long as you’ve met all the requirements.
But, if you’re struggling to find open positions, don’t be afraid to ask your local hospitals, clinics, etc. Even if you can start on an internship level, you will likely move up to a staffed position in no time, and you’ll be getting experience on the job.
You’ll likely start out under a supervisor for a probationary period, before you’re able to work on your own. Once you officially start your daily duties, you’ll be responsible for the following:
Drawing Blood from Patients
This is the biggest duty a phlebotomist has, and should not be taken lightly. It’s where following regulations and safety rules comes into play greater than just about anywhere else. Drawing blood, as you’ve practiced, may seem like a simple procedure, but it is the biggest aspect of your job.
Practice Identification of Patients & Proper Labeling
If you work in a hospital, chances are you’ll be moving around to different floors from where you draw blood, to where you go to the lab, etc.
It’s important not only to keep track of your patients, but make sure every vile of blood you take is properly labeled before it enters the lab. One small mistake can make a world of difference in the well-being of a patient, and their diagnosis.
Work with the Patients
Obviously, you’re going to meet new people each and every day who come in the hospital to get their blood drawn. You’ll be working with patients of all different types, and all different ages. Some will have pre-existing medical conditions, and some won’t.
While it’s important to be able to adapt to people’s personalities and hold light conversation to make them comfortable, it’s even more important to adapt to their needs when it comes to drawing blood.
Some people have smaller or thinner veins, and may require an alternate method to draw the blood. The most important thing you can do is make sure your patient is calm and comfortable as you decide on the best method for drawing their blood.
Transportation of Blood Specimens
You’re responsible for making sure the vials of blood you took from your patient ends up in the right place at the lab. Again, this can mean traveling to different floors, etc., but the samples should not leave your sight at any time before they reach the lab.
Keep Your Area Well-Organized
This may seem obvious, but keeping not only your equipment and tools organized at all times, but your lab cart fully organized is extremely important. This ensures that nothing will get lost, put out of order, or into the wrong hands.
Organization could mean the difference when it comes to saving a life.
Understand Lab Procedures
Chances are, no matter where you end up working, this is a responsibility that will get repeated to you over and over again. Every hospital, clinic, etc. may have varying procedures when it comes to how they do things on a daily basis.
But safety precautions of any medical lab are typically the same, and it is a daily duty to not only remind yourself of those procedures, but put them into practice in everything you do.
One of the biggest safety procedures you’ll need to follow that tends to stand out on its own is that of infection control. It is your responsibility with each patient to minimize the risk of potential infections as much as possible.
This means following safety protocol, using sanitary equipment, and practicing a certain level of precision and care with each patient.
What Are the Skills Needed to be a Phlebotomist?
While phlebotomists and phlebotomy technicians have to deal with a large number of responsibilities each and every day, the good news is that you don’t need any prior knowledge or skill sets in order to become a phlebotomist for yourself.
Before you enter a training program, all you need is a high school diploma or equivalent GED, and to be at least 18 years of age. Consider those two attributes your ‘initial’ responsibilities into the world of phlebotomy.
If you’re looking to get your foot in the door in the medical field, phlebotomy is a great entry-level position to start with that requires little training time, and provides all of the serious responsibilities and duties that come with working in a medical environment.
It’s a great way to get on the job training for furthering your career in the medical field. Or, if you’d like to remain in phlebotomy, it can end up being a great career on its own.
The true responsibilities of a phlebotomist are the day in, day out actions they take to ensure the safety of their patients, and the medical facility they’re working in. If you feel as though you might be up to these particular duties, it might be time to consider a rewarding career in phlebotomy.