A phlebotomist is a health care professional who is trained to withdraw blood for the purpose of evaluation, diagnosis and treatment. Many health care facilities also require the phlebotomist to perform electrodcardiography (EKG) tests that measure and monitor the electrical activity in the heart.
Using venipuncture and microcollection techniques, phlebotomists play an important role on the clinical laboratory team by collecting laboratory specimens prior to testing. Other responsibilities might include inputting key patient data into computers using correct medical terminology, understanding chain-of-custody forms and drug screening procedures, using aseptic techniques and Standard Precautions, handling biohazard waste properly, and maintaining patient confidence and confidentiality. Recognizing the importance of specimen collection in the overall patient care system, phlebotomists must be able to monitor quality control within predetermined limits while demonstrating professional conduct, stress management and communication skills with patients, peers and other health care personnel as well as with the public.
A career as a phlebotomist offers flexible hours, nice working conditions and a chance to perform an integral, respected job in the health care profession with minimal post-secondary education required. In addition, a certificate in Phlebotomy can serve as a stepping stone to other health professions involving clinical, administrative and patient care. In general, phlebotomists work directly with patients – from newborns to the elderly – in hospitals, clinics, laboratories, physician offices, convenient/urgent care companies and home health care facilities.
Earnings vary depending on experience and skill level. In 2003, the average phlebotomist/EKG technician earned $10.50 to $12 per hour. The wage per hour continues to climb due to a severe shortage of trained professionals in this career.