become a phlebotomist

What does a Phlebotomist do?

A phlebotomist draws blood from patients for research, testing, transfusions, or donation. They may need to give assistance to a patient in the case of an unexpected adverse reaction during the procedure of drawing blood. Patients may be nervous about having their blood drawn. Phlebotomists explain what to expect so they will be calm and comfortable.

Watch a video to learn what a phlebotomist does.

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How to Become a Phlebotomist

phlebotomist working

A post-secondary, non-degree award from a phlebotomy program from a vocational school or community college is usually how you enter this career field. Programs from these schools typically last less than one year and then award a diploma or certificate. Schools provide instruction in laboratory work, anatomy, medical terminology, and physiology. Part of the training for a phlebotomist is learning procedures on how to track, identify, and label blood samples.

Sometimes you can enter this career field with a high school diploma and on-the-job training. However, employers usually prefer to hire a person that carries a professional certification. This certification usually means the potential employee has some clinical experience and training in the classroom and were required to pass an exam and proof of competence in drawing blood. Some states require this certification.

Job Description of a Phlebotomist

A phlebotomist’s primary job is the drawing of blood from a blood donor or patient, so that medical laboratory testing can be performed. Because a patient that is in a medical setting or laboratory may not see anyone other than the phlebotomist it is important for the professional to explain their procedure to the patient. This helps a patient or blood donor to be more relaxed and less nervous.

A phlebotomist must be accurate in verifying the identity of the donor or patient and label the blood vials carefully. They enter the information into a database. They are responsible for the medical instruments, such as blood vials, needles, and test tubes and to ensure they are kept clean and sanitary.

Some phlebotomist work at centers for blood drives and in the same way, keep instruments sterilized to avoid complications or infections. Compassion is important for a phlebotomist in addition to dexterity and hand-eye coordination. He or she should also be detail-oriented in this occupation.

Phlebotomist Career Video Transcript

If you have donated blood or had it drawn for medical tests, you have met a phlebotomist. Phlebotomists draw blood for tests, transfusions, research, or blood donations. They talk with patients and donors to calm them, and help patients recover if needed. Phlebotomists also keep detailed records. They confirm a patient or donor’s identity, label drawn blood for testing or processing, and enter patient information into a database. They assemble and maintain medical instruments such as needles, test tubes, and blood vials.

To avoid causing infection or other complications, phlebotomists must keep their work area and instruments clean and sanitary. Patients appreciate a successful first attempt when having their blood drawn, so phlebotomists work skillfully to maintain patients’ comfort and confidence. Phlebotomists work mainly in hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers, and doctor’s offices. Most phlebotomists work full time, and may work on nights, weekends, and holidays depending on the setting. Most phlebotomists take a short technical training program and then test to become certified. Phlebotomists must be certified to work in some states.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Phlebotomists.

National Center for O*NET Development. 31-9097.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.