What’s It Like To Be A Phlebotomist?

If you’ve arrived at this page, it’s probably because you’re curious about a career in phlebotomy.  You might be considering phlebotomy training.  You may be fairly knowledgeable about the field already.  Or you may still have lots of questions.  You may not even know what a phlebotomist is yet (that’s OK, we’ll tell you below).  Either way, this article will attempt to answer some of the most basic questions newcomers to this field will have.

What is a phlebotomist?

A phlebotomist is someone who takes a blood sample from a patient at a hospital or clinic.  This blood sample is then used for various purposes, including plasma donations, medical diagnosis by a doctor, experimentation in a lab setting, etc.

What are a phlebotomist’s duties?

A phlebotomist’s first and foremost job is to collect blood samples from a patient in a way which enables other medical professionals (such as the patient’s doctor) to make effective use of those samples.  This means the phlebotomist must know how to handle the blood sample in a way that will preserve its usefulness.  If a phlebotomist allows a blood sample to mix with other samples, or if the sample is stored at the wrong temperature, it is possible the sample will be ruined.  This wastes time, effort, and money on the part of everyone involved (not to mention wasting the blood itself).

Furthermore, depending on the situation, a phlebotomist is often the first (and sometimes only) face that a patient will see.  So it’s important that the phlebotomist maintain a good working rapport with the patient, and be able to put the patient at ease.

Where do phlebotomists work?

Phlebotomists can be found in hospitals, diagnostics labs, donation centers, and any other place with a medical facility (prisons, hospices, etc.).  Some work full 40-hour workweeks, while others work part-time.  It is even possible to become a volunteer phlebotomist, for example by joining up with an organization like the Red Cross.  Most phlebotomists spend much of their work shift standing up, so physical endurance is a key requirement.

Is being a phlebotomist dangerous?

While phlebotomy is generally a safe occupation for those with proper training, there are some things to be aware of.  One of the reasons training is so important is that phlebotomists work with sharp equipment (such as hypodermic needles) as well as bodily fluids.  Without the use of effective safety measures, there is a risk of becoming exposed to bloodborne and other illnesses.  In addition, phlebotomists are exposed on a daily basis to gloves made of latex, a substance which has been known in some cases to produce an allergic reaction after repeated exposure.  Additionally, not all patients assisted by a phlebotomist are cooperative.  Some are tense and a few can even be combative.  Without a patient’s cooperation, injuries to both patient and phlebotomist are possible.  Finally, one of the dangers of standing up all day is muscle strain in the foot muscles.  Conditions such as plantar fasciitis are common in service occupations which require extended standing.


Did we leave something out?  Are you a phlebotomist with important input to share with our audience?  Add your thoughts to the comments section below.

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