Phlebotomy is the medical practice of drawing, testing, and analyzing blood. Professionals may draw blood samples for donations or transfusions, or to check for the presence of diseases. There are several different phlebotomy jobs available to individuals with the appropriate education and training. The majority of phlebotomy jobs are held by technicians, who physically draw blood from patients. Other professionals work as clinical laboratory technologists, veterinary technicians, and scientific researchers.
Medical workers who actually draw blood are known as phlebotomy technicians and phlebotomists. These individuals use sterilized needles to collect blood samples from arm veins and store them in vials for later analysis. After a procedure, a phlebotomist usually cleans the puncture area with cotton and sterile pads, and places a bandage on the arm to prevent further bleeding.
People can usually obtain phlebotomy jobs with high school diplomas, though some employers prefer to hire phlebotomists with associate degrees or certificates from specialized medical vocational schools. New phlebotomists typically receive formal, on-the-job training from nurses and experienced technicians. Many states and countries require phlebotomists to pass written and practical examinations to gain professional certification and begin working alone. Skilled phlebotomy technicians may work in ambulatory care centers, hospitals, public health clinics, nursing homes, or blood donation centers.
Clinical laboratory technologists who specialize in phlebotomy analyze blood samples after they are drawn. Experts employ microscopes and other laboratory equipment to check for the presence of abnormal material in blood cells, and conduct chemical experiments to detect different diseases. The usual basic requirement for employment as a technologist is a bachelor's degree in medical technology, anatomy, or a similar field. New technologists commonly receive several months of specialized training in hospital laboratory facilities, and they may be required to pass state licensing exams before holding independent phlebotomy jobs.
Pets and farm animals often need blood tests and medical services similar to humans, so veterinary technicians perform many of the same tasks vital in other phlebotomy jobs. Technicians draw blood, analyze the content of samples, and help veterinarians make diagnoses. Most veterinary technicians are required to pass licensing examinations and obtain associate or bachelor's degrees from accredited schools to work in animal clinics or hospitals.
Many skilled biological scientists specialize in phlebotomy research. Scientists conduct laboratory experiments and research historical data to pinpoint diseases and test new medicines. A professional may wish to understand how and why certain blood components, such as white blood cells, react to pathogens or medicines. Biological scientists in phlebotomy jobs usually hold doctoral degrees in microbiology, chemistry, or medicine, and typically work in private laboratories, pharmacology companies, or biotechnology firms.