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Modern day vampires or just outstanding trained professionals? Phlebotomy isn't for everyone

You're just going to feel a little pinch
You're just going to feel a little pinch
Photo courtesy F. Flores

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Perhaps "modern day vampires" is being a bit dramatic but with all the recent frenzy of vampire movies and tv shows, it's almost impossible to not put a sexy spin on it.   As Webster's Dictionary (online) defines phlebotomy as "the letting of blood for transfusion, apheresis, diagnostic testing, or experimental procedures and widely used in the past to treat many types of disease but now limited to the treatment of only a few specific conditions" one might ask why so many people are now being trained in this field.

First, a little history on phlebotomy. Commonly known as "blood-letting," ancient physicians trusted this remedy as a cure for a variety of illnesses. Sometimes it would bring relief, if a person had high blood pressure, for example, but oftentimes it left the patient weak and would occasionally even cause death.

Physicians weren't the only people who were employed as blood-letters, however. Many times the local barber was called in to help. This is where the red and white stripes from a barber pole come from. The red indicates the blood and the white stripe is to symbolize the white tourniquet that kept the bleeding under control.

Much training goes into becoming a certified modern day phlebotomist. Not only is there considerable classroom instruction but a trainee must obtain hands-on experience by practicing under close supervision. The needlestick and blood draw aren't the only factors in becoming a great phlebotomist though. Individuals with this responsibility must also be able to build rapport quickly with patients, adhere to safety standards, be able to insert the needle quickly and accurately, and also maintain patient records with great detail.

Recently I had the opportunity to talk to young up-and-coming phlebotomist, Flor Flores.

What made you want to become a phlebotomist?

Once I enrolled in college to study to become a Medical Assistant I knew it was part of the curriculum. Even though I was a little afraid of it, I decided it was something I could see myself doing in the future. Now that I've finished my schooling, I'm proud to know my phlebotomy skills can be applied to any future career in the medical field.

What was your training like?

Training was a lot of fun! When training started it was awesome because it was an all-girl class. That made us more comfortable working with each other. At the same time, I felt a little scared just from knowing that if I do something wrong it could hurt the person I'm drawing blood from.

What was the hardest part for you?

I would have to say the hardest part is dealing with people who are terrified of needles or blood. You don't always know what to expect from them when you are about to stick them so, in turn, that can make you nervous.

How do you deal with difficult patients or children who are afraid of needles?

I've learned that when dealing with difficult patients or scared children, as the phlebotomist you have to remain calm and adhere to the policies of your agency. For example, some sites prefer that you don't have the parents in the room with the children while others do.

Where do you see your career going as a phlebotomist? Is this your dream job?

Frankly, I don't yet know what my dream job is. I am trying to decide whether or not to stick to the promising field of healthcare or go back to college. If I do stay in the healthcare arena, I feel sure phlebotomy will be an important part of my career.

If you are a medical assistant or phlebotomist looking for a change of scenery, try some of these open positions:

Phlebotomist - Mobile (Schryver Medical)
* Phlebotomy Services Rep - Quest Diagnostics

Team Edward (from the Twilight saga) has nothing on these trained professionals!



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