What is a Phlebotomist?

As a phlebotomist, you’ll take blood samples from patients which are examined in a laboratory and the results can be used to diagnose diseases and conditions quickly. Patients may see a phlebotomist for:

  • Routine blood tests – such as a complete blood count (CBC), Blood clotting test, or a lipid panel.
  • Blood donation – if you donate blood a phlebotomist will be in charge of this procedure.
  • Therapeutics – some people need to have blood removed if they have an overload of red blood cells or iron. 

Phlebotomists take samples of blood for testing. These blood samples may be needed to learn more about the particular patients or they may be used in research. Phlebotomists also collect blood from donors for those in need of blood transfusions

Most blood is taken from veins, but phlebotomists must also learn how to draw blood from capillaries when a small amount of blood is needed. 

What does a phlebotomist do?

Phlebotomists are trained to collect blood samples through:

  • Venipuncture (a puncture in your vein).
  • Finger pricks, such as for blood sugar tests or to determine blood type.
  • Heel pricks, which are specifically for infants.

Day-to-day tasks of a phlebotomist can include: 

  • Explaining the procedure to patients
  • Reassuring anxious patients
  • Inserting a needle to draw blood into a tube
  • Applying a dressing to the needle puncture
  • Labelling and delivering the sample to the correct laboratory
  • Enter the data into a computer system

You may work in a private hospital or for the NHS.

What skills are required to be a phlebotomist?

As a phlebotomist, you’ll need to be able to calmly speak to patients who may be nervous about giving blood and be able to answer any questions they have. Some of the key skills include:

  • Be able to put patients at ease if they feel anxious about giving blood.
  • Be able to communicate procedures clearly to patients.
  • To be sensitive and kind to patients.
  • Be able to carry out basic computer tasks.
  • Excellent attention to detail as you will be dealing with small, sharp needles.

What qualifications are needed to become a phlebotomist?

Whilst there are no set entry requirements to train to become a phlebotomist, it can be useful to have a college qualification such as a Level 2 Diploma in Healthcare Support Services, a level 2 Certificate in health and social care or a level 3 in healthcare support. 

These Level 2 and 3 courses include work placements. Entry requirements for these courses typically include 2 or more GCSEs in grades 9 to 3 for a level 2 course and 4 to 5 GCSEs in grades 9 to 4.

It can also be helpful to have a first aid certificate when applying for entry-level roles to prove you have the necessary safety skills.

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Steps to become a phlebotomist:

Step 1: Training

There are a few options to begin your training as a phlebotomist. First, you can do a Level 2 or 3 diploma in health care or social support discipline and take part in a work placement.

Another route is by doing an apprenticeship, such as an intermediate healthcare science assistant, specialising in phlebotomy or a health care support worker and then training as a phlebotomist. 

Finally, you can also start by working your way up as a healthcare assistant through promotions and training.

Step 2: Complete a background check:

You will require a satisfactory criminal record check to show that you’re suitable for this type of work. 

Step 3: Apply for a position as a trainee psychologist:

You’ll then need to apply for a position as a trainee phlebotomist either with the NHS or for private practice. From there, you’ll be trained on the job and learn the skills needed to become a successful phlebotomist.

How much does a phlebotomist earn in the UK?

The average UK salary for a phlebotomist is £23,400. Under the NHS salary for a phlebotomist is on Band 2, £19,609 to £21,615 a year. Senior phlebotomists are on Band 3 earning between £21,709 to £23,603. 

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