It’s simple to think that becoming a phlebotomy technician is easy because it doesn’t involve going through long, arduous study. However, there are still many things that a student must learn before he can call himself a real medical practitioner. Therefore, it’s very important to sift through the facts so that you know what to expect.
Procedure and coursework
Two very important aspects that a phlebotomy technician must understand are procedure and coursework. Learning the procedure and obtaining hands-on experience on the coursework of the phlebotomist’s job, in fact, take the majority of the entire training program. In phlebotomy, the trained technician draws blood from a living person (or an animal, as in the case of related veterinary practices), through the use of various means. The technician uses different tools to draw the blood and each tool and procedure varies depending on the age of the person. For infants, a heel stick is used to remove pain from the equation, whilst in adults a typical venipuncture is performed with a needle.
The procedure itself is quite straightforward. The phlebotomy technician has to provide medical access to the vein, but first he has to find it manually. The technician then puts a tourniquet around the patient’s arm to further expose the vein and applies an antiseptic before the blood extraction is done.
Fingersticks are used when drawing minute samples of blood. Some of the most specially trained technicians will work with more sensitive procedures, such as drawing blood from the patient’s radial artery. This is more complex compared to the simple process of venipuncture. The complications and risks are very high with this kind of procedure so only specially trained technicians are permitted to do it. In this type of phlebotomy, the technician draws blood from the patient’s wrist through the radial or brachial artery, both of which are located in the arm’s bend, called the antecubital area. These blood samples from the artery are then used for various laboratory tests, such as arterial blood gas examination.
Types of phlebotomy fields
As mentioned, there are many different types of phlebotomy. In other fields of applied medicine, a medical professional actually gets to choose which field he wants to specialize in. The difference in phlebotomy is that only training and experience can make a technician qualified to conduct more complex coursework.
The phlebotomist, depending on the requirements of the medical facility, will need to learn about very specific tests like complete blood count, blood chemistry, lipoprotein panel tests and tests for blood cardiac enzyme. In a complete blood count test, the phlebotomist has to draw a somewhat larger amount of blood to conduct tests for red blood and white blood cell abnormalities, anemia, leukemia, infections, immunodeficiency and bone marrow deficiency. Although specific knowledge of these tests is not required in the phlebotomist technician’s actual coursework, the knowledge will help if the individual likes to pursue a career in laboratory medicine.
At a quick glance, the job of the phlebotomy technician might seem very easy. In reality, it requires skill, education and specialized medical experience.