What is a Phlebotomist?

Phlebotomy…it’s quite a funny sounding term, isn’t it? Maybe when you first heard or saw the word, you had no idea what it was. Because “phlebotomist” isn’t a common term like “nurse,” there may be a number of people who don’t really know what phlebotomy is, or what a phlebotomist does.

The word “phlebotomy” actually comes from two different Greek words (like many other medical terms). “Phleb” actually means “pertaining to vessel” in Greek, and the second part of the word “otomy” means “to make an incision” in Greek. Hence, the word “phlebotomy” essentially means “to make an incision in a vessel” in Greek. Simply put, a phlebotomist is a person who practices phlebotomy, or the process of drawing and collecting blood. This procedure is also known as a “venipuncture” or sometimes as a “blood draw.”

A phlebotomist typically works in a hospital, laboratory, or at a blood bank or doctor’s office. A phlebotomist may have many auxiliary duties, but their primary function is to perform venipunctures on patients and collect blood samples. If you’ve ever had blood drawn where someone came in and used a needle to puncture your vein and collected blood into small sample tubes for testing, that person may have been a phlebotomist (although sometimes nurses will draw blood as well). If you’ve ever donated blood at a blood bank, the person who drew your blood may have also been a phlebotomist (but again, they could’ve been a nurse too).

Phlebotomists are typically educated through a training program where they learn how to perform the duties of a phlebotomist, which primarily involves drawing blood. They may also learn things like basic anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, sanitization and sterilization procedures, and other related information. Some states in the US require a person to follow a specific certification protocol, while other states have no specific criteria in terms of state-required certification, however, most employers may prefer to hire phlebotomists with a professional certification.

There are a number of medical organizations that offer phlebotomy certification like American Certification Agency (ACA), American Medical Technology (AMT), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), National Credentialing Agency (NCA), National Healthcareer Association (NHA), and National Phlebotomy Continuing Education (NPCE). While most employers prefer to hire phlebotomist who are certified, if a person lives in a state where state-certification isn’t required and has related career experience, it’s possible that they may be hired based on their background. For example, if you are already and Registered Nurse (RN), it’s possible that a person who is an RN may be able to work as a phlebotomist in some states where separate state-certification isn’t required. Again, this may vary depending upon where a person lives and the specific rules in their state.

In addition to venipunctures, phlebotomists may also spend time coaching or counseling nervous patients, verifying a patients identity, labeling blood tubes, entering patient information into computers, and maintaining various medical instruments such as test tubes, and other medical supplies.

Hopefully now after visiting this page, you have a little bit better idea of what phlebotomy is, and the role of a phlebotomist!