Phlebotomy Technician Job Description
If the sight of blood and needles doesn’t faze you, you could be a prime candidate for a career as a phlebotomy technician. Also referred to as phlebotomists, these professionals work in hospitals, clinics, or labs, and are often detail-oriented, organized individuals who enjoy working with a diverse clientele. Phlebotomy technicians spend their day drawing blood specimens from patients and sending off samples for testing. Some environments can be hectic depending on the size of the clinic or hospital or the number of referrals sent to the site on any given day. Phlebotomy technicians can be employed either full or part time, depending on the facility, and often report to hospital or clinical directors. Strict adherence to safety procedures is imperative, as phlebotomy technicians could sometimes be exposed to disease-bearing blood specimens.
Phlebotomy Technician Duties and Responsibilities
Regardless of the medical environment in which they work, phlebotomy technicians perform the same core tasks. These duties are among those most commonly mentioned for this occupation:
From processing intake paperwork to explaining techniques, phlebotomy technicians handle all procedures in preparing patients for having blood drawn. They will verify patient’s name and birth, review why they are having blood drawn, and explain HIPAA rules and regulations.
The main responsibility of a phlebotomy technician is to insert a syringe into a patient’s arm and draw one or more vials of blood to meet the testing needs of the ordering physician. These technicians will start with the application of a tourniquet on the upper arm, followed by the sticking the syringe needle into a vein on the inside of the elbow or the back of the patient’s hand.
Send Specimens to Labs
Once all the needed blood has been drawn, phlebotomy technicians must double-check patient information and create labels to place onto blood vials. They then follow storage procedures and later prepare specimens for shipment to a medical lab by placing them into proper shipping vessels.
Maintain Areas and Inventory of Supplies
Wiping down surfaces with disinfectant wipes and ensuring adequate supplies of syringes, bandages, cotton balls, test tubes, vials, and other essential items are important daily responsibilities of phlebotomy technicians. They are often required to keep inventory logs and place orders for items as needed.
Generate and File Patient Reports
It is up to phlebotomy technicians to create reports regarding patient testing, testing status, and lab results. They enter patient information into a database, generate patient charts, and mail or fax documents to physicians and lab technicians.
Phlebotomy Technician Skills and Qualifications
Successful phlebotomy technicians are outgoing people who embrace a challenging, rewarding position in healthcare. The following skills are commonly sought by employers:
- Clinical skills – the ability to find an adequate vein from which to draw blood, insert needles, apply tourniquets, and answer patient questions regarding techniques and processes are chief among the skills that phlebotomy technicians must possess. They need to be knowledgeable about the use of syringes, vials, tubes, and other supplies and equipment
- Computer proficiency – it is important for phlebotomy technicians to be adept at using electronic health record programs and healthcare databases for patient information entry and recovery
- Physical capabilities – hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and the ability to stand for long periods of time are essential physical attributes in this profession
- Communication skills – phlebotomy technicians should display strong oral communication and listening skills to be able to explain procedures to patients, speak with physicians, and listen to patient concerns
- Organizational skills – from preparing blood samples for shipment to labs to maintaining adequate patient files, organizational skills are a must for phlebotomy technicians
- Bedside manner – phlebotomy technicians must demonstrate care, patience, and empathy for each client who enters their area; they must be able to put nervous patients at ease and ensure that patients are comfortable and satisfied with their visit
- Collaboration – in this role, phlebotomy technicians must be able to work closely with physicians, hospital administrators, lab technicians, supply vendors, and other professionals
- Multitasking skills – with both administrative and clinical skills a necessity, phlebotomy technicians often find themselves performing various tasks while working with a single patient
Phlebotomy Technician Tools of the Trade
Supplies, equipment, and programs that phlebotomy technicians work with daily include:
- Blood collection tools (needles, needle holders, tube organizers, phlebotomy carts)
- Blood storage and shipment materials (insulated bags, labels)
- Microsoft Office (primarily Outlook and Word)
Phlebotomy Technician Education and Training
Phlebotomy technicians must complete at least a postsecondary certificate program from an accredited institution before embarking on this career. Some employers might require job candidates to hold an associate’s degree. Many of these certificate and associate degree programs are offered by community or vocational colleges and include courses in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and first aid. Most programs contain an externship wherein students will work under certified phlebotomists and perform supervised duties to achieve hands-on training. Professional phlebotomy technician certification (CPT) is encouraged and sometimes a requirement of some employers. Certification can be obtained from a few organizations, including the American Society for Clinical Pathology and the National Phlebotomy Association.
Phlebotomy Technician Salary and Outlook
According to information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), phlebotomy technicians earn a median annual salary of $32,710. Those earning at the 10th percentile realize a salary of $23,330, while top earners can make $46,850. Phlebotomy technicians employed at outpatient care centers and medical laboratories are paid the highest mean annual wages, at $36,850 and $34,740, respectively.
Northeastern and West Coast states offer the highest mean annual wages in the country, led by California at $41,360, Alaska ($40,670), and the District of Columbia ($40,600). Rhode Island ($39,160) and Connecticut ($39,110) round out the top five states for earning potential for phlebotomy technicians.
A healthy 25 percent job growth rate for phlebotomy technicians is projected through 2026, according to the BLS. The increasing need for blood analysis to make various medical diagnoses for a growing population is the main reason for this expected growth.
Phlebotomy Technician Helpful Resources
These resources have been provided to help you further review what it takes to become and work as a phlebotomy technician:
National Phlebotomy Association – this professional organization has been providing support, continuing education opportunities, certification, and conferences for phlebotomy technicians since 1978
Phlebotomy Technician Specialist – through illustrations and detailed examples, this book explores what it takes to deliver the customer service and clinical duties that make a successful phlebotomy technician
American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians – a supportive organization offering training conferences, certification, manuals, newsletters, and other materials and events helpful to those pursuing or involved in a career as a phlebotomy technician
Phlebotomy Podcasts – offered through the Lab Medicine journal of Oxford University Press, these podcasts offer short overviews of phlebotomy administrative and clinical best practices
Phlebotomist Career Video – get a quick overview of what it’s like to work as a phlebotomy technician with this five-minute interview with a professional in the field
Phlebotomy Procedures & Practices – written by a phlebotomy advisor and hospital laboratory worker, this book offers a detailed look at blood-drawing techniques and safety practices as well as overviews of equipment and supplies. Review test request forms, learn to draw blood from infants, and even take a competency assessment
Phlebotomy Essentials – want to review the most updated industry standards? Look at case studies in phlebotomy? Learn about new technology in the field? This book is for both beginning and established phlebotomy technicians who simply want to expand their knowledge of this field
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