A Guide To Becoming A Phlebotomist

A phlebotomist is trained to collect blood for medical testing, donations and transfusions. A phlebotomist draws the blood via venipuncture, finger prick or heel pricks from infants. They typically work in hospitals, clinics, blood donation centres, laboratories and outpatient care facilities.

Skills And Qualifications Required

Entry requirements for phlebotomy training may vary depending on the employer and trainer. Although there are usually no entry requirements, you may need at least two GCSEs or the equivalent. Some employers and training institutions require a BTEC or the equivalent in health and social care or previous experience working within the healthcare profession.

According to Chris from Phlebotomy Training Services “You will be working closely with patients and their relatives as well as other healthcare professionals”, so there are certain skills that you should have. You will need to be:

  • A good communicator
  • Able to explain procedures effectively: and to calm any patients who may be feeling anxious
  • Considerate towards others
  • Patient, kind and caring
  • Have good organisationalskills
  • Be able to work well with others as part of a team
  • Closely follow instructions
  • Use your initiative

Specialist training courses are available to learn and develop the skills you will need to effectively carry out your role as a phlebotomist.

Phlebotomy is considered a routine procedure, but it is still important to undertake the proper training. There are risk factors involved as you are puncturing the veins to obtain the blood. It is also known as an invasive procedure.

The risk factors aren’t just to the patient, but to the phlebotomist as well. There are key safety issues when handling hypodermic syringes or any sharp surgical instruments. Your job is to minimise pain, discomfort or distress for your patient while also reducing the risk of infection for both them and you.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) issued these guidelines with regard to phlebotomy: Health workers ‘should be trained in, and demonstrate proficiency for, the blood collection procedures on the patient population that will be within their scope of practice.’

What Is Involved In Phlebotomy Training?

As with any medical practice, the first thing will be understanding the theory before you will be expected to practice the skills.

Phlebotomy Theory

  • You will be taught the anatomy and physiology of veins that are in both the arms and legs of your patients. Plus learning how to determine which is best to use.
  • How to control infection
  • Types of equipment and the appropriate techniques to use
  • Understanding blood clotting
  • Correct procedures for preparing your work station
  • Effective communication with patients
  • Safe handling and working practices including avoiding needle stick injuries
  • What to do if there is an injury
  • Contra-indications for venipuncture – this means understanding when it is unsafe to proceed or if any special measures are required to minimise risks to you and your patient
  • What complications could arise and what you should do in those circumstances
  • Ensuring that all labelling and reports are filled in correctly.

Practical Training

You will probably begin practising drawing blood on a purpose built dummy patient. Your mentor/trainer will require you to demonstrate your knowledge by talking through the procedure as you carry it out.

Once you have mastered this, then you will be given opportunities to draw blood from a live patient under the close supervision of an experienced practitioner.

You may also decide to undertake specialist training if you wish to move into a specific field such as neonatal, intensive care or paediatric care. These require a more comprehensive knowledge and competence in venipuncture techniques.

Workplace Competency

Once the theory and practical elements of your training have been completed, you will be supervised in a clinical work place setting. Your performance will be measured against a list of competency frameworks relevant to your health field.

Your mentor is there on hand to help you perfect your skills and build your confidence. You will receive ongoing training and assessments and be able to ask any questions you may have.

Your mentor will be looking to see if you understand and can put into practice, all the theory and practical training you have received, in a real-life situation.

Finally it is essential to keep up to date with your clinical skills ensuring that any local or national guidance is adhered to.