In previous years, before the many technological advancements in medicine, the majority of phlebotomists learned the art of phlebotomy through on the job training. This kind of training still occurs on occasion, but for the most part employers prefer phlebotomists who attend a phlebotomy school and then obtain their certification.
One instance where you may still receive on the job training is in a physician’s office. If he notices an increased need for blood collection, another employee who already has experience practicing phlebotomy may provide you on the job training.
This training may be a supplement to other training you are receiving elsewhere or it could be the only form of training that you receive. If you only receive on the job training and do not attend any off-site phlebotomy related classes, you will most likely just learn how to draw blood. You will not have the understanding of phlebotomy practices that other phlebotomists who attend classes and become certified do.
When you are trained on the job, you are taught how to stick the needle in a vein to obtain blood; however, that is only one of the things phlebotomists do. The other aspects of phlebotomy are just as important.
The differences between strictly on the job training and formal training are significant. The majority of schools also offer students on the job training in the form of clinicals. However, in formal training program you begin your clinicals after you have learned about the many other aspects of phlebotomy.
These aspects include:
Accuracy is essential. The test results obtained from the blood samples assist the physician in determining what is wrong with the patient. If you do not have the proper training and incorrectly label or contaminate tubes of blood, the physician will have difficulty diagnosing and treating his patient.
Knowing Which Areas to Avoid Drawing From
You need to know the rules for drawing blood in special circumstances. For example, if a patient has had a stroke and his arm is paralyzed, you should avoid drawing from that arm.
Order of Draw
Order of draw is also very important. If you do not learn the proper order of draw, blood test results could be altered. Using an incorrect order can contaminate the non-additive blood samples with the additives found in the other tubes.
Special Circumstances for Particular Tests
Some tests require special treatment to ensure accuracy. For instance, a lactic acid test must be drawn without a tourniquet and put on ice immediately.
As you can see here, numerous aspects of phlebotomy require much more than just on the job training. If your employer offers to train you, I would definitely consider going forward with it. However, you should also look into taking formal phlebotomy classes to supplement what you are learning at the physician’s office.