Mayo Clinic phlebotomist drawing blood from a patient

What does a phlebotomy technician do?

Phlebotomy technicians collect blood from patients and prepare the samples for testing. Most work in hospitals and clinics, but some collect blood for donation purposes. Phlebotomy technicians are important members of the health care team and often need to explain the blood-drawing procedure and put patients at ease.

With constantly evolving medical technologies, phlebotomy technicians must know the difference in blood test types and should be aware of how medications and diet impact blood samples.

Scope of practice

Phlebotomy technicians are responsible for drawing samples of blood and preparing them for testing. Common tasks and duties include:

  • Explaining procedures to patients
  • Comforting patients that might be nervous about needles
  • Taking blood pressure, pulse, and respiration readings
  • Drawing blood
  • Applying bandages after blood is drawn
  • Sending blood, urine, or fecal samples to the lab for testing
  • Sterilizing equipment and cleaning workspaces
  • Updating patient medical records

Work environment

Phlebotomy technicians work in hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, private home care, medical labs, blood donation centers, research institutes, and insurance companies. They may work day, evening, or night shifts, including weekend and holiday hours. The majority of their time is spent on their feet, interacting with patients or preparing samples to be sent to the lab.

Becoming a phlebotomy technician

Due to the intricate work of inserting needles into hard-to-find veins, phlebotomy technicians need to have well-tuned fine motor skills. They need to be able to handle difficult and emotional patients that might be afraid of needles. Finally, they need to be detail-oriented and able to remember safety precautions, how different diets can affect blood samples, and exactly how samples need to be treated to appropriately test them.

Higher education requirements

To become a phlebotomy technician, you must have a high school degree or equivalent and a phlebotomy technician training program. These programs can last a few months to a year.

Certification process

The certification process can vary depending on which organization is certifying the phlebotomy technician. These organizations include the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, National Healthcareer Association, and the American Medical Technologists. Requirements typically include a high school diploma or GED, a phlebotomy training program, and potentially some work experience.

Career opportunities and outlook

Phlebotomy technicians can expect a median salary range of $34,000.

Phlebotomy is an expanding field with excellent career opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of phlebotomist technicians to grow much faster than average. Blood testing is an essential task in health care so demand for phlebotomy technicians is likely to increase since doctors use blood work for analysis and diagnosis.

To advance their careers, some phlebotomy technicians choose to get certified in a particular area to become phlebotomy specialists or donor phlebotomy technicians. With additional experience and education, others become medical lab technicians, medical assistants, or registered nurses (R.N.s).

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