The job of a phlebotomist is to collect blood samples for analysis which is used by doctors as an important diagnostic tool. Phlebotomists receive specialized phlebotomy training and are knowledgeable of human anatomy and physiology and blood collection techniques. Phlebotomists attend training programs through community colleges, hospitals, and trade or vocational schools. Phlebotomists work with doctors and nurses and are employed in hospitals, private healthcare facilities, laboratories, and blood banks.
Mobile or “floating” phlebotomists travel between locations to collect blood, and in some cases, the phlebotomist technician will travel to a patient’s place of residence. The patient may be seriously ill, require in-home care, or be otherwise unable to leave their home. Phlebotomists may also travel with blood donation drives, which may travel to several locations each week. Traveling phlebotomists bring medical services to people who may be unable to access them on their own.
The duties of a traveling phlebotomist remain unchanged from those of a phlebotomist working from one health care facility. The phlebotomist is still responsible for following all the safety procedures and protocols set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI). Blood collection must occur in a safe and sterile environment. Each sample must be well documented and labeled. Safe storage transportation of collected samples is very important. Often a phlebotomist will travel with an assistant to ensure samples are properly collected and documented.
Traveling phlebotomists may encounter some difficulties not seen by traditional phlebotomists. The main difficult of traveling phlebotomists is usually the lack of a clinical environment. At blood donation drives, blood samples are commonly collected in medical vans or ambulances. The phlebotomist may have limited space to work as well as limited medical supplies. Should the phlebotomist run out of bandaging materials, for example, they will need to return to their place of employment to replenish the supply. However, being a traveling phlebotomist is not a bad job. Traveling phlebotomists are able to service a greater number of patients and donors. Blood drives at large schools or organizations are a great example of this.
Becoming a traveling phlebotomist requires the same qualifications for phlebotomists that work in a traditional clinic environment. Traveling phlebotomists must complete a reputable training course, which means completing a program recognized by the United States Department of Education, the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Standards (NAACLS), or similar agents.
Many traveling phlebotomists are certified through nationally recognized agencies, such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the American Phlebotomy Association (APA), or the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). Many traveling phlebotomists are provided with additional training which familiarizes them with the use of mobile phlebotomy equipment.