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A Phlebotomist's Story 

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Phlebotomists are Special

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 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.

(High Job Satisfaction & Skills ) + (High Stress) + (Low Pay) = (High Turnover Rate) 

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.

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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.
 
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