Phlebotomists are allied health professionals who bravely do something that makes even the toughest among us squirm sometimes: taking blood. Not for the faint of heart (or, more specifically, those who faint at the sight of blood), phlebotomists play an essential role in testing, diagnosing, and treating patients.
Phlebotomists work in a variety of different clinical settings: hospitals, private clinics, laboratories, community health centers, blood donation centers, nursing homes, and private care facilities. They are responsible for sterilizing and preparing all of the equipment used for drawing blood, and for the actual blood-drawing itself. And taking blood is their primary task, many phlebotomists also process other bodily samples for testing.
Attention to detail is key—everything needs to be labeled correctly, and kept free of any kind of contamination. Phlebotomists are also responsible for their own safety, and protecting themselves and other patients from infections spread via blood, such as HIV or hepatitis. Phlebotomists also have the added challenge of working with some patients who are afraid of needles, so a good bedside manner (not to mention strategies for distracting uneasy patients from the needle stick) comes in handy, as well.
Phlebotomists’ shifts vary depending on where they work, and may include unorthodox weekend or holiday hours.
For more on what it’s like to be a phlebotomist, check out these videos:
What’s It Like to Work as a Phlebotomist?
My Job: Phlebotomist
To become a phlebotomist, you’ll need to complete at least a high school degree and a phlebotomy-specific training program from a community college or vocational school. Most employers also require that their phlebotomists pass the national certification exam. Some states also require that phlebotomists be licensed, so be sure to check your own state’s requirements. For more on the phlebotomist exam and certification process, visit the National Phlebotomy Association.
Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), phlebotomists earn a median salary of $30,670 per year, or $14.74 per hour.
Like many allied health career paths, phlebotomy is growing: the BLS expects it to grow by a healthy 25% by 2024. If you have the nerves of steel to wield a needle with confidence, it could be a great career path for you.
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