In order to serve their patients best, nurses should be proficient in phlebotomy practices and techniques. Phlebotomy is an acquired skill that involves drawing blood from an individual. Nurses usually use a patient’s vein instead of his artery to draw blood.
Blood collection is performed in numerous settings.
These settings include:
- Surgical Centers
- Physicians’ Offices
- Certain Government Establishments
- Plasma & Blood Donation Centers
Some facilities believe that nurses should take the place of the phlebotomist in an inpatient setting. While some facilities believe this to be a positive move, others do not. Even so, as a nurse you should consider taking phlebotomy courses for this reason alone.
The institutions that have put nurses in charge of obtaining blood samples from inpatients believe that this move will lead to a significant improvement in patient care.
These improvements include:
- Nurses are more familiar with the patients than the phlebotomy staff is and can use this information to the patient’s advantage. For example, if the patient is sick all night and did not sleep, the nurse could opt to draw his blood later in the day.
- Nurses could obtain blood from a patient while starting an IV. This would save the patient from being stuck again.
- Improved communication concerning tests is being seen between the nursing staff and the laboratory.
- Mislabeled specimens increased and even though it is only a small percentage, it is considered a significant risk to patients.
- The inability of the laboratory to give feedback to the nursing staff on a regular basis is a problem. Because the nursing staff is always on the floors, feedback is limited. When meetings do take place, it is generally with select representatives and the laboratory relies on these representatives to educate the rest of the nursing staff.
Phlebotomy Courses for Nurses
Courses you should expect to take are:
- Management of Blood Banks
- Clinical Laboratory Techniques
- Safe Laboratory Practices
- Ethics in Health Care
- Disposal of Laboratory Equipment
- Patient/Clinician Rapport & Patient Psychology
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Basic Math for Health Sciences
Becoming Certified in Phlebotomy
It is recommended that you become certified in phlebotomy because many employers require their phlebotomists to be certified. To become a certified phlebotomy nurse, you need to pass the courses listed above. Once you have successfully completed these courses, you will begin the certification process. This process involves a practical exam to test your hands-on skills and a written exam to test your knowledge.
The typical certification test will cover various topics, including:
- Skin Punctures (fingerstick, heel stick)
- Vein Puncture
- Medical Law & Ethics
- General Knowledge of Human Anatomy & Physiology
- Labeling & Disposal of Biohazardous Materials
- Patient Preparation for Specimen Collection
Several national organizations offer certification to phlebotomists. Each organization has a different set of guidelines that must be met prior to sitting for the exam.
- National Phlebotomy Association
- American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians
- American Society for Clinical Pathology
- National Credentialing Agency for Lab Personnel
Some large hospitals may arrange in-door training for their registered nurses. The nurses who are trained on-site will learn the concepts of blood drawing, preserving blood samples and record keeping. Once the nurse completes the training, the hospital generally offers her a certificate of completion.
Additionally, nurses may be trained in new skills and technologies of phlebotomy by attending short courses that only take a week to complete. Due to the many changes that are taking place in the health care system, having additional skills is always a plus. Becoming a certified Nurse Phlebotomist does not take very long and this skill could make you even more valuable to your employer.