Phlebotomy refers to the process of making an incision in a vein and drawing the blood of a patient. This blood is then used for transfusions, medical research or – more commonly – the diagnosis of various illnesses.
Phlebotomists provide an essential service in hospitals and GP’s offices, taking the strain off other medical personnel such as Doctors and Nurses.
Extensive training and responsibility
As you might expect, phlebotomists have a number of responsibilities which their extensive training is designed to prepare them for. They are well trained so that they are able to obtain blood samples without interfering with or disturbing other medical care that the patient is receiving. Phlebotomists are also trained to extract blood in the correct way in order to avoid contamination or spoiling the sample.
Once a blood sample has been taken a phlebotomist is also responsible for transporting the specimen to its intended destination.
As well as extracting blood, phlebotomists also provide a number of other essential medical-based services. These include the cleaning and sterilisation of equipment, preparing stains, updating patient records and explaining medical procedures to patients.
Being a phlebotomist can be a rewarding job. You get to work in a hospital environment but you do not have to deal with any of the worries that come with being a doctor or registered nurse. Many people also choose to work as phlebotomist part-time and this gives you some flexibility.
There is always a great demand for phlebotomists as they provide essential services within a hospital.
If you decide to pursue a career in phlebotomy then training will usually take place whilst you are working. There are no minimum requirements to begin phlebotomist training although strong education qualifications would put you at an advantage when it comes to applying.
The training provides you with a range of skills; some of which are not medically related. A combination of theoretical study and practical learning is used to prepare you for the job and once you have completed training you will receive a certificate which says you are competent enough to work without close supervision. This enables you to work in any UK hospital, allowing you freedom to travel and work in different areas of the country.
Alongside the advantages of being a phlebotomist there are some disadvantages too. As a phlebotomist you carry a large amount of responsibility on your shoulders. It is you job to ensure you extract blood using the correct procedures but you must also make sure specimens are stored correctly to avoid contamination or inaccurate results.
As a phlebotomist you may spend a fair amount of your time working in a laboratory. Here you are at risk from exposure to toxic reagents and chemicals. Disposing of needles in the correct manner is also one of your responsibilities and means you must always be vigilant of health and safety.
There is a small margin for error whilst working as a phlebotomist; you cannot risk mixing samples or labelling them incorrectly as such mistakes can have dire consequences.
Is it right for me?
Ultimately, to decide if a career in phlebotomy is right for you, you need to consider everything that the job entails. Research all of the duties thoroughly and consider whether this is something which you feel you would enjoy doing on a regular basis.
As an important part of the healthcare service, job satisfaction would be high in such a career but you must be confident of your ability to cope with the pressures associated with the job too.
Johnny McDonald is an expert in healthcare and healthcare recruitment. More information about Phlebotomy Jobs can be found on the main HCL healthcare website.
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