Phlebotomy is a fast-growing career in the healthcare industry. There are many places that a phlebotomist can find full-time or part-time work. Because there is such a significant demand for phlebotomists, the employment opportunities have continued to rise.
More places than ever require phlebotomists because of a growing need for blood tests. Technology has made it possible for blood tests to find different conditions. Everything from allergies and STDs to certain cancers can be detected through a blood sample.
But, it’s not just busy hospitals that need technicians. Blood sampling is used for different reasons, and people need their blood drawn outside of the hospital environment, too.
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Places Where Phlebotomists Work
Because of the high demand, medical facilities all over the United States are always looking for qualified phlebotomists. We’ll now look at where you can find work as a new or experienced phlebotomist.
Busy hospitals need many phlebotomists on staff. They work in rotation, so your hours can be flexible. But, you may have to work overnight shifts or odd hours.
As a phlebotomist in a hospital, you might see more action than someone practicing phlebotomy in a smaller facility. Hospital phlebotomists are on their feet most of the time. They also may have to move quickly to get blood samples to an on-site lab.
- Tip: One way to get hired by a hospital is to complete your training there. Some hospitals need phlebotomists so much that they offer training programs or internships. When you go through an internal program, you’re more likely to get hired.
The benefits of working in a hospital environment are that you get to work with a lot of different people. If you enjoy being a part of a team, you’ll fit right in. Hospitals are busy and exciting places to work. You can take pride in your job knowing you could help many people’s lives each day.
But, working as a phlebotomist in a hospital isn’t for everyone. You may see some ugly things. People who have been in accidents or who are severely injured may need their blood drawn. If you’re squeamish at all, you may want to consider a different working environment.
Private Practices and Clinics
If you want to work in a medical facility, but are looking for something more low-key, you might want to get hired by a small clinic. Private practices sometimes employ full or part-time phlebotomists.
When you work in a smaller medical facility, you may not see as many patients per day. It’s also unlikely that you’ll see traumatic injuries. Other than that, the job remains the same.
- Important: One potential drawback to working in a smaller medical facility is you may not have as many resources. Hospitals usually have a lab on-site. Private practices may not.
So, along with labeling and organizing blood vials, it’s also your responsibility to make sure they get to a nearby lab. That can be a bit nerve-wracking at first. It means you have to pay even closer attention to detail and be extra careful when transporting blood samples.
If the fast pace of a hospital seems overwhelming, a smaller facility like this could be a better option for you. People who are considering a career change into phlebotomy might want to start out here. You’ll usually have longer breaks in between patients.
The American Red Cross
What many people don’t realize right away is that there are a lot of non-medical facilities that are always looking for phlebotomists. One of the most popular organizations is the American Red Cross.
Some of the Red Cross’ phlebotomists work on a volunteer basis. If a blood drive comes to town, they look for volunteers for a day or two to fill the need for people who are coming to donate blood. But, the Red Cross also has full-time and part-time employees based around the country. These phlebotomists can travel to different blood drives or go to areas of disaster where blood is needed.
Besides the Red Cross, community blood banks are also great places to work as a phlebotomist. The blood drawn at these places are usually used locally to help save lives.
Knowing which type of blood a patient has makes it easier to use their blood for patients in need. Even in small communities with local blood banks, phlebotomists help to save lives.
Older individuals tend to need blood tests more often. It can help to diagnose different conditions and allow them to get assistance faster.
Larger nursing homes or assisted living centers can have a phlebotomist on staff. Since nursing homes are made up of mostly senior citizens, blood draws are commonplace.
The environment will be slightly different than other medical facilities. You’ll probably see a handful of people each day. You may even have specific appointments with specific individuals.
Again, most nursing homes don’t have a lab on-site, so it’s up to you to make sure blood samples are labeled and delivered correctly. These samples will go to each patient’s physician.
Medical care for veterans is becoming a big issue in the U.S. Veterans’ hospitals and clinics need medical professionals on staff to take care of our military vets without making them pay a full amount.
Working as a phlebotomist at a VA clinic can sometimes be a volunteer opportunity. But, larger VA hospitals may be able to pay you to stay on staff full-time.
Working in a place like this is not only a superb career option, but it’s a great way to give back. Many veterans in this country are getting older.
Just like working at a nursing home, it’s important for older individuals to get their blood tested regularly. Catching a possible condition or illness early on will make it easier to treat in older individuals.
Whether you find a job with a veteran hospital or choose to volunteer your time, it can be an enriching experience to work with veterans on a daily basis.
These clinics are usually open 24-hours a day. That means you could be working overnight or other odd hours, so it’s a good job for night owls.
Emergency clinics don’t typically see the type of trauma a hospital does. But, they see patients that feel their condition is severe enough to need immediate attention.
The atmosphere of an emergency clinic is almost like a hospital. You may be on your feet long hours and have to move quickly. But, you’ll also be helping people just as quickly.
Since the cases that typically come to an emergency clinic can be serious, patients look forward to finding out results right away. Getting a blood test is one of the first things a patient will do before seeing a physician.
Mobile Phlebotomy Work
Thanks to the high demand for phlebotomists, some are choosing to become traveling/mobile phlebotomists. This is a freelance position.
Different facilities and organizations hire mobile phlebotomists as-needed. For example, a veteran’s hospital may not need a full-time phlebotomist on staff. So, when they have patients that need their blood drawn, they will count on a traveling phlebotomist.
You can work almost anywhere, from hospitals to local blood drives. If you want to be your own boss, it’s a great option.
It may be difficult at first to build up a client base. But, when you get a few places to trust your services, you can build a successful career out of traveling around with your talents.
Can Phlebotomists Do Volunteer Work?
Most phlebotomy jobs offer at least some flexibility. Even if you work in a hospital, you should usually be able to find some extra time. Remember, it’s still an entry-level job. Although it’s vital, you won’t have to work the same shifts as a physician or specialist.
With that free time, many phlebotomists choose to give back using their skill set. Thankfully, there are many volunteer opportunities for phlebotomists.
Some of them include:
- Community health centers – Some communities have clinics and health centers that cater to underprivileged people. Medical specialists volunteer their time and talents here for free to get people the help they need.
- Prisons – Prisoners often need medical care too, as well as routine blood draws to make sure they aren’t carrying any diseases.
- Drug treatment centers – Drug treatment centers often need phlebotomists to make sure their patients are following their treatment plans. Blood tests can detect many types of drugs in someone’s system. Regular blood tests on people struggling with drug addiction can hold them accountable and help them on the road to recovery.
- International volunteer work – There are so many countries throughout the world that don’t have access to quality healthcare. Because of this, organizations like Doctors Without Borders go all over to provide services. It isn’t just doctors that go on trips like these. Phlebotomists are needed to perform blood draws. Drawing blood can help physicians determine what might be wrong with someone who hasn’t had regular access to medical care. If you’re interested in traveling and want to help those in need, this is a great option.
Some of the other options listed here for employment can also use your phlebotomy services on a volunteer basis. Nursing homes and local blood drives often rely on volunteers to keep up with demand. So, if you can’t find work right away at these places, you can start out as a volunteer.
What is the Working Environment of a Phlebotomist?
The working environment of a phlebotomist depends on where you find a job. In most cases, you’ll be on your feet quite a bit. The environment can be busy if blood samples are needed in a hurry.
If you choose to work in a smaller space or if the blood samples you draw aren’t urgently needed, phlebotomy can be somewhat of a routine job. One of the great things about this career is that you can choose your environment based on where you want to work.
You might choose the type of environment based on your experience and level of physical stamina. Someone looking for their first job out of high school might be better suited to the fast pace of a busy hospital. Someone looking for a job out of retirement or a career change might be a better fit for a private practice or blood bank.
What Are the Duties of a Phlebotomist?
The responsibilities of a phlebotomist may vary slightly depending on where you work. But, in most cases, the duties are always the same.
Knowing what to expect before you start training and eventually apply for a job is essential so you can determine if phlebotomy is right for you.
Expect the following duties once you start working:
- Preparing patients for a blood draw
- Making sure all the correct supplies are available and organized
- Applying a tourniquet
- Finding usable vein(s)
- Performing blood draw (venipuncture)
- Collecting and labeling blood samples
- Transporting blood samples to a lab
- Maintaining safety precautions
- Using proper sterilization techniques
What Qualities Should a Phlebotomist Have?
Even though there are many opportunities for work, not everyone is cut out to be a phlebotomist. It’s a great entry-level job and doesn’t take a lot of training. But, it also requires the right kind of person to enjoy it as a successful career.
To be a good phlebotomist, you should have at least some of the following characteristics:
- Compassion and patience: You’ll be working with a lot of different people every day. Some will be old; others will be children. You’ll even have some awkward patients. Being able to handle every type of person is vital. Understand their situation and that they might not be thrilled about getting their blood drawn. A good phlebotomist can calm down their patients and make sure the experience is more bearable for them.
- Good conversationalist: Along with just working with patients, you have to be able to talk with them. It can help to make the experience better for them. But, it will also ensure that everything is going smoothly through the procedure. It’s vital that you ask your patient’s name, their basic information, etc. You should also be able to explain what you’re doing as you’re doing it, so there is no confusion.
- Strong organizational skills: A phlebotomist needs to be highly organized. Not only do you have to collect vials of blood, but they need to be correctly labeled. This allows the lab to test them and find results. Paying attention to detail is essential.
- Clean and efficient: One of the most critical qualities a phlebotomist can have is being tidy. You should always have the right equipment on hand, neatly organized on a tray before meeting with a patient. A phlebotomist needs to make sure everything is clean and sterile when they’re working with a patient. When they’re done, all the tools and equipment need to be cleaned appropriately.
- Ability to follow the rules: Every facility will have their own set of rules. Knowing how to follow every detail is essential. It can help to ensure your safety and well-being, and that of your patients.
Are There Risks to Becoming a Phlebotomist?
- Important: One of the primary risks a phlebotomist faces is accidentally getting stuck with a needle. You risk catching an illness or disease. Dirty needles are one of the most common ways diseases like HIV are spread. Accidents can happen far too easily, so it’s imperative to be careful and cautious.
Additionally, one of the risks is accidentally sticking a patient with a needle. Proper precautions need to be taken before drawing blood. The area needs to be sterilized, and a clean needle needs to be used.
If you accidentally stick a patient with a needle, you could cause injury or illness. Unfortunately, the patient may have the right to sue you, or the facility you work for. That why you need professional indemnity insurance.
Hazardous materials can be found all over hospitals and clinics, too. They are always to be labeled appropriately and disposed of. But, again, accidents can sometimes happen. If you find yourself exposed to these materials, it could cause health problems.
Always take extra steps to dispose of hazardous materials the right way. If you see something that hasn’t been disposed of correctly, make sure someone is notified who is qualified to do just that.
If you take your time and follow safety rules, the potential for bad things to happen will become less.
Think outside the box when you’re searching for a phlebotomy job. So many different places need certified phlebotomists on their staff all the time. As the demand for blood draws continues to grow, the demand for phlebotomists will, too.
Not only is the job market booming, but there are many places to find work. If you’re considering phlebotomy as a career, it’s a great time to get started. In just under a year, you could be certified and working at any one of these places.