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What Does a Phlebotomist Do?

Phlebotomists are the people charged with drawing blood in hospitals, independent clinical laboratories, and blood banks. They not only draw the blood of patients and blood donors, but they also carry out related clerical and routine laboratory tasks. In some labs, they also enter lab results into a computer. Because phlebotomists are often a patient’s only contact with a medical laboratory, they need a good bedside manner. They must be able to calm anxious and nervous patients, and make pleasant small talk while they perform their unpleasant task. They must work well and with accuracy while under pressure. Safety is key, and phlebotomists must take all precautions to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases. Though their blood-drawing tasks seem routine and very repetitive, their work is an extremely important component of the medical laboratory team.

Specific tasks include:

  • Interviewing patients and recording patient information;
  • Talking with patients or donors to explain procedures and allay fears;
  • Examining patients to take vital signs;
  • Assembling equipment for drawing blood;
  • Inserting needles into veins or pricking fingers;
  • Using standard procedures to keep records of patient identification and blood samples;
  • Labeling blood containers and seeing that they are properly stored;
  • Conducting medical testing procedures to screen blood samples;
  • Keeping an inventory of supplies, reordering as needed and stocking supplies on carts and hand trays.

How Do I Become a Phlebotomist?

Most phlebotomists have a high school diploma or GED and 3 months or more of training. Although certification is not required, some agencies offer certification for phlebotomy technicians. Nurses and other medical professionals can be certified as well.

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