Phlebotomist Job Description
Phlebotomists are medical laboratory technicians who collect blood samples. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment growth of 15% between 2010-2020 for all medical laboratory technicians.
According to the Web site Phlebotomist.net, however, “other agencies predict as much as a 20 percent increase by 2014.”
Phlebotomist.net credits this growth to “the combined factors of a growing population, new and improved medical testing, and the increased availability of medical services.”
Job Skills for Successful Phlebotomists
Blood draws can be nerve-wracking for some patients, and in some cases agonizing and painful. A good phlebotomist can help ease the emotional and physical discomfort of the patient.
The phlebotomist’s must maintain a calm demeanor in order to put the patient at ease. Preparing the patient for the blood draw with disinfectant and a tourniquet comes next. The blood draw must be done as painlessly as possible, which is why a phlebotomist may spend a good bit of time searching for the best vein in which to insert the needle.
After blood is collected, the phlebotomist labels each sample to make sure it receives the correct tests.
Phlebotomists deal with complications that may arise from improperly drawn blood, patient allergies, or other patient conditions.
For these reasons, the ability to be a people person while also having the discipline to stick to procedure and an attention to detail can all be key attributes for phlebotomists.
Work Environment for Phlebotomists
While phlebotomists often work in laboratory environment, they also may perform their duties at on-site blood drives or testing areas, the kind that often are set up in buses, at workplaces or schools.
Entry-level phlebotomists often start as part-time workers to allow them to build their comfort and confidence with their duties. An increase in skills leads to more hours and more responsibility.
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for all medical laboratory technicians, including phlebotomists, was $36,280 in May 2010.
Phlebotomist.net says an entry-level phlebotomist can expect to earn between $20,000 and $25,000 annually. With greater experience and education, a phlebotomist salary can rise to $40,000 annually.
According to the BLS, phlebotomists working in a reference laboratory average the highest hourly wages, at $20.16, with private clinics next at $15.90, hospitals at $13.50 and physician’s offices at $13.
High school students looking toward a medical laboratory career should take biology, chemistry and mathematics.
Prospective medical laboratory technicians such as phlebotomists must complete an associate’s degree program that includes science and clinical laboratory science courses.
Education Requirements for Phlebotomists
Hospitals often offer one-year certificate programs for students who already have a degree in a related field such as nursing. Certificate programs also may be available at vocational or technical schools as well as the armed services.
Typically, more education allows for the possibility of greater career flexibility and advancement.
Phlebotomist.net recommends pursuing an associate’s degree in preparation for an eventual move to a career as a medical assistant or a laboratory technician.
A bachelor’s degree helps prepare a phlebotomist for a supervisory position or to become a medical technologist.
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