A phlebotomist career is one of the newer specialties in the field of health care, relatively speaking. A phlebotomist is a person whose most common task is drawing blood from a patient. Nurses and doctors have been drawing blood since the dawn of modern medicine, but until recently it was not a specialized occupation – the doctors and nurses did it themselves. However, as science improved, more and more blood tests were invented, and blood transfusions became more common, the frequency of the need to draw blood became burdensome, and employees were hired and assigned specifically for this task. Eventually, standards and regulations were created to be followed across the board, training programs were developed, and the phlebotomist career was born. It is one of the fastest growing medical jobs .
Most phlebotomists work in doctor’s offices, medical clinics, and hospitals. Some work in medical laboratories. The work is fairly routine, with much of the day taken up with repeating the same job functions. Job duties include calming the patient; at times, patients can be very fearful or squeamish about having blood drawn. If they’re shaking, dizzy, or show other signs of anxiety, it’s the phlebotomist’s responsibility to help them relax and refrain from beginning the procedure until the patient has calmed down. Drawing the blood is done by inserting a very thin needle into a vein; when done correctly, there is very little pain involved. Because of the possibility of exposure to infectious diseases, safety procedures are a high priority on the job and must be followed at all times.
While a few phlebotomists are still trained on the job, this is becoming increasingly rare. These days, most new phlebotomists have attended a trade or vocational school to study phlebotomy, which can take anywhere from two months to a year. In the shorter courses, most of the focus is on the knowledge and skills needed to perform the job, while in the longer courses, additional subjects are studied to give the student a broader knowledge of the human body and medical topics. Most employers these days have a standard policy of only hiring certified phlebotomists, which means that in addition to schooling, a prospective phlebotomist must also take and pass the Phlebotomy Certification Exam.
While a phlebotomist career is not one of the highest paying occupations in the health-care industry, the pay is quite good considering how little time is spent in formal training. Across the U.S. most phlebotomists earn between $12 and $16 an hour, which translates to between approximately $25,000 and $32,000 a year. Some will make less than this, especially in entry-level jobs. Others will make substantially more. In many jobs, there are often a lot of opportunities for overtime, and benefit packages in health care are usually excellent. According to official government projections, the need for phlebotomists is expected to be higher than average for the next several years, as health care becomes an increasingly large sector of the U.S. economy.