Confessions of a Phlebotomist: Same four walls, different scenery

phlebotomistFirst of all, I know that what I do makes most people pretty darn squeamish. Patients tolerate blood tests at best and go faint at worst. But I must tell you that I truly love what I do.

The same four walls actually look different from day to day because of the wide variety of people who walk through my door. Before I became a phlebotomist, I used to watch television shows like ER and wonder if patients were really like that. I'm here to tell you that yes, they are-in every way.

-- Compare your salary to a phlebotomists.

When I started out I was fairly young, 23, and looked even younger than my age.

One day, after a crazy-busy morning, a cranky elderly woman came in and began questioning my abilities as soon as she sat down. "Well young lady, you sure don't look old enough to be drawing my blood. Are you sure you're qualified to do this?" I smiled and prepped her arm. As soon as I was ready to poke her with the needle, I smiled again and couldn't resist saying, "I'm actually a high school student. I'm on my externship. This is my first time on an actual real person; we only practiced on oranges in training." The woman was speechless! I knew I was good at what I did, and I did an excellent job on her. She was flabbergasted when I finished like a pro!

I've done about 1,000 blood draws, but however many more I might do I will never forget one man who was Hepatitis B positive. While I was putting on my gloves, he asked me to double bag them (put on two pairs) for my protection. I didn't oblige. I have to imagine that every one of my patients has AIDS or Hepatitis and follow precautions. While I was in the middle of drawing his blood he explained that he contracted the virus because back in his "younger days" he liked to do "kinky things in kinky places on women." TMI! I must have turned three shades of red!

It always amazes me when men or women in the armed services drop like flies at the sight of a needle. They can be strong while dodging bullets aimed to kill them, but, as soon as the tourniquet goes on and the needle goes in their arm, they pass out! One young navy man, a hulking guy who was well over six feet tall and easily weighed 240 pounds, was all tough until half way through the blood draw, when his face turned a sickly shade of green. He said, "I feel funny..." and fainted. He came back to about five seconds later and kept apologizing for it.

What could I do? I told him, "Don't worry about it; it happens all the time. We are glad to have you serve our country!"

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Ready for this

I am a Phelebotomy student. I have to pick where I wanna do my clinical soon. Do you recommended the er or a clinic? Thanks

October 08 2015 at 11:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Schrock

I was interested in the emt program or something which is better source of income. And also been looking for less costly internships and or programs. That I found this Phlebotomy training and I started to read everything which I found like information. At the end I realized this training is an excellent way to begin a career in healthcare, or advance an existing healthcare career. The training program is generally short, and Phlebotomy jobs are relatively easy to find and obtain. If somebody is curious may find more information here www.phlebotomytrainingfinder.

January 26 2015 at 11:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ritesh Kumar

I am a phlebotomist and fully understand your feelings, But let me assure you we are not all the same in our point of view towards the task at hand or to a patients feelings. Anyone who has had to do a venipuncture on an infant or young child will agree its the hardest thing to accomplish and something you can only accept by thinking to yourself " I am doing this to benefit the child so it will be healthy" Phlebotomists really do have more sensitivity than you think.
Emy from

February 25 2014 at 11:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As a phlebotomist of over 13 years---i take offense to being told I do not know how to do my job. As a parent I have told off more nurses and PBTs oer my son than I can count--I have called them out on thier improper techniques--starting out with telling my that I had to to leave the room with my 6 month old son was being stuck--I told that person where she could stick that needle and requested another tech to do the stick---I have had to basically tell a PBT how to do a draw on me--I have small veins and a butterfly needle typically has to be used in order to obtain a sample from me. I went to my local ER and was stuck 6 times because the interns who thought they knew everything wouldnt listen to me---I have done this job for 13 plus years--I am now in school finishing up my nursing degree--in training I was the one that the other students would come get when they had a "hard stick". so don't go telling me that I don't know how to do my job that I sat through 8 weeks of class and 250 on site training hours to do--when you have went through the classwork and training hours then we can talk otherwise shut up and deal with the pain of my needle!!! VAMPIRES RULE!!!!!

February 06 2011 at 9:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Are you sadistic? Do you like to stab people?

July 22 2010 at 8:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

CMS, you take your job and your importance way too seriously. These patients are sick and need compassion. Don't make it about you. It's your job.

April 23 2010 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
joan lewis

As a nurse anesthetist and a prev phlebotomist, why doe'snt your wife and sons ask if they can lie down if they faint so often? Also the chairs have sides and a table/tray the comes down in front of them so how does she end up on the floor? For everyone NEVER let an MD. draw blood from you and if all this does not please you you can always ask for the dept. of anesthesia to come down, l have been asked to help many times, but please stop being so negative you are about to make me faint.

April 20 2010 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

this sure was interesting to read and the even more interesting to read the comments....
having gone thru a lot of blood draws for lab tests over the years, my left elbow area is now full of scar tissue (so i was told) from having so many needles inserted. so for the past couple of years, i've told the lab tech to use the right elbow area for the 'big' draw...and have been using the top of my hands for hte 'normal' blood test every couple of months.
i am a type 2 diabetic, am a hepatitis b carrier, have hemachromatosis (too much iron in the blood), and no doubt something else lurking in there.
when i first started having the phlebotomies, the tech at the hospital was less than friendly. it was almost like i was interupting her day of work. after having this done each week for several months, i quickly learned who to have perform the draw, and was able to strike up a great nurse/patient relationship with 2 people. lucky me, the 1st tech retired. but imagine my surprise when the woman showed up at MY place of employment and wanted service. i provided it as nicely as i could, but she was upset that it wasn't what she felt it should be...after all, i was one of her patients.
just had my latest 'big draw' last week, and at a different hospital, and as glad as i am that this is reducing my iron levels, i still can't stand the size or the sight of that needle. so i always turn away until it's all over.
to you people above who do this all the time, thanks for your compassion and professionalism.

April 20 2010 at 12:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It doesn't bother me to watch the whole blood draw procedure. I find it fasinating(sp?) how the phleb. can find that little transport tube under my thick skin. Maybe I've been lucky, maybe I have good veins, maybe I just have a better attitude. I've always had "one shot" phlebotomists.

April 20 2010 at 9:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's possible that the vein(s) where you are asking the phlebotomist to stick are not good veins. A good phlebotomist will always look for veins first in the arm and use the hand as a last resort. Hand veins blow easily and do not always produce the best speciman. If you have frequent blood draws along with other major health problems veins can develop scar tissue and/or become hard and wirey and are not good candidates for extracting blood from. So using the same vein all the time is not a good idea.

April 18 2010 at 10:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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