Being a phlebotomist is an incredibly important job that holds a very important link in diagnosing a patient. Depending on how sick the patient is, the ability to obtain a proper blood sample can literally save someone’s life.

So, what exactly is a phlebotomist?

A phlebotomist is someone who practices drawing blood from a patient and then sends the specimen to a laboratory for testing.

Venepuncture is the process of drawing blood and the phlebotomist may need to draw blood for a number of reasons in various scenarios. This can include the following; general blood testing, blood transfusions, or taking blood for research or donations. There are many places where a phlebotomist can be employed, these range from; a pathology collection centre, hospitals, blood donation centres, and a General Practitioner’s surgery. Here are five top tips to help you to succeed in your career as a Phlebotomist:

Make Sure Your Patient Is Comfortable

It is important for the phlebotomist to have an open and caring attitude towards each individual patient. In some cases, the patient may feel nervous or uneasy about having their blood tested. You must be compassionate and have patience with each individual you treat. This can be achieved by reassuring the patient and by making the procedure as gentle and painless as possible. Sometimes, you may be required to deal with extremely ill people, or if working at a hospital, may need to wake a patient to perform their blood test. In this type of situation, it is vital to maintain a compassionate attitude and help the patient to understand that this blood work is necessary.

Double Check The Patient’s Details

When a patient arrives for a blood test, you should begin by double-checking their name. If they have a referral form, check the spelling of their name on the form, and obtain other details from them; including their Medicare number and their date of birth. If the person undergoing the blood test is too ill to inform you of their details, you must have their next of kin assist them with this. Have the patient or their next of kin repeat the details back to you to ensure that all details are correct.

Laboratories can be very busy places and there will be many times when you will be required to multitask and work to restrictive deadlines. The habit of consistently cross-checking the patient’s details with the referring nurse or doctor will help to avoid any mistakes.

Sometimes, phlebotomists may get called on to help with blood transfusions. This is a time when attention to detail is particularly important. During a blood transfusion, the role of the phlebotomist is to make sure that the new blood being transfused is a correct match to the patient’s blood type.

Check Whether Your Patient Needs To Be Fasting

Some blood tests require the patient to be fasting before having their blood taken. These include tests such as; an iron blood test, a fasting glucose blood test, and a cholesterol test. If the patient is required to fast before a blood test, it is important that they understand and follow the guidelines for their particular test. Fasting times may vary dependent on the test being performed.

Check the type of test the patient is having done and ask each patient when their last meal was. If the patient hasn’t properly followed the guidelines, the test results may be inaccurate.

Don’t Panic If You Can’t Find The Vein

Finding the vein to draw blood from can sometimes be tricky and this is where excellent hand-eye coordination comes in. You should always ask which arm the patient would prefer to have their blood drawn from and start with that side. Being confident and remembering the skills you have learned will always help you in this scenario. If you have a patient with particularly weak veins, you can kindly ask them to squeeze their fist until the vein becomes more visible.

It is best for the phlebotomist to perform the task at hand successfully on their first attempt, otherwise, the patient may experience pain or discomfort. Some patients, however, may have difficulty in giving blood. In these types of cases, the phlebotomist may need to have a nurse assist them in successfully drawing the blood. This may be common among the elderly, very young patients, or a patient who has a certain medical condition.

Be Confident and Apply Your Skills

Attention to detail is an absolute must when working as a phlebotomist. You should be detail-oriented and meticulously apply your knowledge and skills to each task you perform.

In order for the phlebotomist to properly follow procedures, they need to ensure to draw the correct vials of blood for the tests ordered. Understanding the patient database and how to track the vials of blood is also a crucial aspect of this role. If these tasks are performed incorrectly, specimens are at risk of being misplaced. You can avoid these mishaps by keeping your workspace clean and by making sure that each tube of the patient’s samples has been carefully marked and sent to the lab for analysis.

Ready to learn more?

If you want to know how to become a Phlebotomist, view our Certificate III in Pathology Collection course and contact us for enrolment details.