Becoming a Phlebotomist

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Phlebotomists are trained to collect blood, which could be either for donation purposes or so to be sent to a clinical laboratory to be analysed. Blood tests are typically used to diagnose diseases, assess internal health, evaluate the effectiveness of medications and to determine whether or not a patient is receiving proper nutrition.

Gap Medics students Rebecca and Jemma donating teddies in the Paediatrics Ward at Morogoro Regional Hospital. Detailed job description

To collect blood from an arm vein, a phlebotomist first slows down the flow of blood by applying a tourniquet to the upper arm. An alcohol swab is then rubbed over the skin near the inside of the elbow in order to disinfect that area. After locating a vein in the area, the phlebotomist then inserts the needle into the vein. This process is called “venipuncture.”

If only a drop of blood is necessary, the phlebotomist can get a blood sample by simply pricking a finger to make a skin puncture. This is used to test a patient’s blood sugar levels or to determine blood type.

Part of the phlebotomist’s responsibility is to ensure that all equipment is properly sanitized before it is used to collect blood. Medical professionals rely on these blood test results to diagnose patients and monitor treatment progress and misidentifying a blood sample or accidental contamination of the sample could result in dire and even fatal consequences.

Accurate labelling, careful transport and proper storage are also key responsibilities.

Many patients are afraid of needles, so the first thing that needs to be done is to put the patient at ease. Fine motor skills are crucial in order to insert a needle into a vein without causing more pain.

As a phlebotomist you must observe stringent safety guidelines to prevent any direct contact with the blood samples that you collect. There are numerous infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV that you can contract if you come in direct contact with infected blood.

Working Conditions

Phlebotomists work in hospitals, clinical laboratories, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, community health centres and other urban and rural health care settings where they work under the supervision of a clinical laboratory technologist or other medical professional.

Phlebotomists must be extremely accurate and careful. In a busy facility, where they may take dozens of blood samples during a typical shift, they should be able to work under pressure without compromising either accuracy or safety.

Academic Requirements

To become a phlebotomist, you must finish high school and complete an accredited training program that includes study in anatomy, blood collection procedures, safety precautions and proper storage and handling of blood samples.

Many employers will hire only phlebotomists who have successfully passed their  certification exam. To take the exam, you must complete a training program and demonstrate 100 successful venipunctures and 25 skin punctures.

Continuing education is required to maintain certification.

Phlebotomist Salary

In most work settings phlebotomists are paid by the hour. The wages vary depending on education, experience and workplace location. The average annual salary of a phlebotomist in Australia ranges from AU $ 36,710 to about AU $ 49,580. The hourly wage varies from AU$18.06 to AU$22.89

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