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A Day in the Life of a Phlebotomist

What is a phlebotomist?

pathology collection courses
November 30, 2017

If you’re looking for a meaningful career, where you can work both with people and independently, a career in phlebotomy could be for you!

Phlebotomists or pathology collectors are healthcare professionals who are trained to draw blood from patients in a safe and sanitary manner.  Blood could be drawn for tests, research purposes, transfusions, or even for donations.  As a phlebotomist, you could find yourself working in a variety of settings, including hospitals, doctors’ offices, or medical or diagnostic laboratories.

If you work in a hospital, you’ll have the opportunity to take a hands-on role in the treatment of patients from all walks of life.  You’ll be personally collecting patient samples, so you can put a face to every DNA sample you collect, and your analysis will greatly assist the medical team with their diagnoses. 

A typical day will involve 

As with most professions, the day-to-day tasks of a phlebotomist in a hospital can vary.  When heading off to work, you can expect your day to include: 

Receiving orders 

You’ll be given a list of patients needing their blood drawn; the nurses and doctors on duty will have compiled this list the night prior.  It’s common for blood to be drawn early in the morning, before the patient has eaten or undergone any physical activity, to ensure their body chemistry and blood is steady.  Thus, hospital work usually requires an early start but don’t be surprised if you find yourself drawing blood throughout the day.

Each patient will have a request slip, and it’s the job of the phlebotomist, in conjunction with nurses, to identify the patient based on their chart and/or record to ensure they’re drawing blood from the correct patient and labelling it accordingly.  You’ll be equipped with identification labels for each vial of blood to ensure all samples remain easily identifiable.

Drawing blood

Once requests from the doctor or lab have been received, you’ll need to visit the patient on the ward to draw blood, having ensured the patient’s condition hasn’t changed since the order was made.

Whilst drawing blood may seem a little daunting a first, you’ll be trained in every part of the process, including applying a tourniquet, locating a vein, cleaning the skin, inserting needles and physically drawing the blood.

You’ll find that drawing blood will be easy with some patients but more difficult with others. That’s why having a good bedside manner is so important, as the patient may be tired, irritable, in lots of pain, or difficult to draw blood from.  Young children and the elderly are usually the most difficult to obtain samples from, as it can prove hard to locate their veins.

Taking samples to the laboratory

Once all the samples have been collected for the day, you’ll be able to head down to your laboratory.  Here, a lab technician will carefully place each sample into a centrifuge to separate the plasma from the blood.  The samples will be organised into categories based on the type of testing they’ll undergo, before you prepare to repeat the process again with your next set of patient orders.

Dealing with critical patients

Part of your job will include assisting with blood transfusions for patients that are in critical condition.  This will involve liaising with specialists to ensure a patient’s blood type has been cross-matched and ensuring the right sample is administered, as well as keeping a cart fully stocked with the necessary transfusion equipment.

Paying close attention to important details

This role is perfectly suited to those who thrive on strong attention to detail as working in a clinical setting to safely drawing blood requires thorough and diligent attention each and every time. Assisting lab technicians can not only make a big difference in a patient’s life, but proves a very rewarding role in your own life.

To learn more about the pathology courses that are available in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, just fill out the form below.  As one of Australia’s leading providers of pathology courses, becoming a qualified phlebotomist is only a few steps away.

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