An article contribute by Lon, MT Phlebotomy of course usually involves venipuncture to
obtain peripheral blood specimens for clinical laboratory analysis. This is a delicate microsurgical procedure. It
is not a suitable profession for just anyone as some people seem to assume. Many individuals leave the profession
after only a few years, moving on to other professions for various reasons. It takes a very special person indeed
to "stick with it" all the way to retirement.
Phlebotomists are worthy of our continual never ending thanks, respect and admiration. Not only do they perform
dozens of venipunctures per day with great exactness, they are also required to juggle many other jobs. In our lab
they perform so many jobs in fact that their official title in our organization is "Patient Service Rep". I wonder
how many among us think that this is an appropriate title for phlebotomists?
Watch this video of a phlebotomist attempting drawing blood from a vein in the arm. But whoops, what
should she have done different?
ATTENTION: Please realize that this video
(published from YouTube) is NOT HERE TO TEACH you phlebotomy techniques, but
merely to show you different scenarios of the phlebotomist's daily routine. The
video may contain techniques, or procedures that do not conform to proper and safe venipuncture protocol.
Viewer discretion is strongly advised.
Retaining Skilled Phlebotomists
Phlebotomists collect and preserve people's blood, and urine or stool samples for occult blood testing in
hospitals, medical facilities, or a medical centers, or freestanding clinical laboratories. Many also work in blood
donation centers. The specimens that they obtain have been requested for laboratory testing by a medical doctor or
licensed healthcare practitioner.
It seems demeaning to me. True, phlebotomists are also receptionist, specimen processor and lab assistant
who perform a variety of lab tests, micro set-ups and sometimes take x-rays and do EKG's. Oh, and they are really
good with computers, too! But some MLT's and MT's also perform those jobs and maintain their identity. Day after
day, year after year, phlebotomists report to work with a smiling face and a positive attitude. They seem almost
altruistic in that they give so much of themselves for so little in return for their efforts. Those who lack such
qualities, and there are a lot of them, myself included, eventually move on.
High Turnover Rate
Perhaps there is a way to keep good individuals in the phlebotomy profession. But how? Is there a paradigm here
some place to break? First thing that could be done that won't cost a dime is to call phlebotomists what and who
they are. They are PHLEBOTOMISTS! They well deserve a solid and professional identity with respect and dignity.
They've earned it and deserve it. Also, I made up a little equation that supports my hypothesis that substantially
increasing the salary should help as well. Note that I left out the parameter of a college education. It's not
applicable here as phlebotomists acquire a tremendous amount of clinical lab knowledge on the job which continues
to grow just by working in the clinical lab.
It seems the only parameter in the above equation that can easily be changed is the low pay. So the most logical
answer is to increase the phlebotomist's salary by at least 50% and in special cases 100%. Maybe you can think of a
better way to help keep phlebotomists from moving out of the profession.
You may ask, "What about the cost?". Don't worry, as the cost/benefit to this solution is very good. It
would cause an immediate and marked increase in job satisfaction and decrease the high turnover rate. Keeping
talented individuals longer and possibly decreasing absenteeism through "calling in sick" would increase the
quality of care for the patients who would then start thinking more highly of phlebotomists. Having happy
phlebotomists and happy patients justifies the cost. The lab would run more smoothly and the hospital and clinics
would thrive as a business.
About the Author: Lon is an experienced Medical Technologist (MT) who has
worked many years as a phlebotomist. In his spare time he enjoys researching interesting topics and
writing about them.