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So you want to enter the medical profession

Students with Disabilities

You can choose to be a Phlebotomist, one of the many different Technicians, a Medical Assistant,

a Physician Assistant, a Pharmacist, a Licensed Vocational Nurse,  a Registered Nurse, or a Doctor.

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Out of all your choices Phlebotomy is the quickest, easiest, and least expensive. In addition, out of all your choices, Phlebotomy, by definition, is the most frequently invasive procedure done to patients. In effect, Phlebotomy is probably the most patient orientated, skilled, and needed of all the choices you can make.


  What is it like to practice Phlebotomy


Blood specimens in laboratories or physicians clinics are collected by different healthcare professionals, medical technologists, or certified medical laboratory technicians, or specially trained individuals who do the blood collecting. Phlebotomists are allied health professionals who draw blood from patients for medical testing. Phlebotomists usually work under supervision and authority of physicians.


In addition, phlebotomists are also responsible for:

1. Providing proper explanation to the patients about the procedure being performed, patient considerations, and knowing the Patients Bill of Rights.

2. Basic record keeping for laboratory reports in patient files.

3. Preparing stains and laboratory reagents as per the procedure of the laboratory.

4. Maintaining, and sterilizing equipment in the lab, waste disposal, decontamination procedures.

5. Examining patients to take vital signs - temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respiration rate.

6. Transportation of urine and fecal samples to reference lab for testing.


Training in the technical skill of blood collection is required for a professional phlebotomist. The phlebotomist is the critical link between the patient and the testing laboratory. Professional phlebotomists are proficient in drawing blood using various methods like venipuncture, capillary blood collections and perform special skin punctures, such a collecting specimens from infants in neonatal care units as per the sample requirements. Collection of blood from indwelling catheter lines is another field of specialization for phlebotomists.


Complete understanding and practice of related areas of specimen transportation, handling, and processing is a must for phlebotomists. Blood sample collection, preservation, and processing should be properly understood by phlebotomists. Depending on what tests are ordered, mostly blood tests can be done from a 5mL to 25mL sample of blood. Usually collection is done by phlebotomist, but medical practitioners, some EMTs, paramedics, other nursing staff may also take blood if they have phlebotomy certification and licensure.


Many studies are done on blood in diseased and normal states since it is relatively easy to obtain. Physicians depend on lab tests done on venous blood samples since much valuable information is available in timely and cost effective way without causing much patient distress. Blood tests are done as a part of the routine checkup process in hematology and biochemistry departments. Microbiology department cultures the blood. Detection of antibodies in blood serum is done in immunological and serological testing. Serum is used in majority of immunological testing and is obtained by clotting the blood completely before centrifugation in a plain tube.


Hospital or clinics depend on the workings of medical laboratories. About 85% of the patients clinical decisions are dependent on the information consequential from laboratory tests. A small error in pre-analytical procedure will magnify into a major parameter change and thus patient treatment would be affected. To determine prognosis of disease, diagnose disease, and manage therapy physicians depend on the quality of data produced by medical lab technicians.


There are many opportunities present for making mistakes during phlebotomy, which result due to high personnel turnover rates, lack of understanding about good laboratory practices, and inadequate training. Many common errors constitute of patient misidentification, and collection of unsuitable specimens for testing due to unsuited venous accesses, venous stasis, inappropriate collection devices and containers. For better health care system and patient care, standardization of phlebotomy techniques, continuous education, certification, and training of health care professionals involved in blood collection responsibilities is required which will result in high quality specimens.


Because of this it is compulsory for a phlebotomist to be certified and licensed. This definitely gives an added advantage and confidence in the job market to a phlebotomist. Education and certification requirements for phlebotomists vary from state to state. State of California and Louisiana have enforced mandatory licensing for all persons who are not doctors, nurses, or clinical lab scientists. Phlebotomists need to be thoroughly trained to take blood regardless of state of practice. Phlebotomists can choose an associate’s degree program at a community college, or obtain a phlebotomy diploma offered through vocational/technical schools.


Not all vocational/technical schools are the same; cost and quality training vary widely. Health Career Specialist is recognized for setting the bar on cost and quality so if you plan on attending different vocational/technical school it would behoove you to make sure they meet the standards established by Health Career Specialist. Before beginning this journey you should view the CA Department of Public Health Laboratory and Field Services (CLICK HERE) and attend one of Health Career Specialist FREE Information Sessions by contacting us or simply call (800) 818-2408.




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