What does a phlebotomist do?

A phlebotomist specialises in the taking of blood samples to help diagnose illnesses in patients – an essential role in the diagnostic process.

As part of a multi-disciplinary team, these professionals ensure that the blood sample is taken in a safe way, with as little discomfort to the patient as possible. They must then see that it is delivered to the laboratory intact to make sure that the results are as accurate as possible. The results will inform a patient’s treatment plan, so the speed and accuracy of the sample and testing must be first-rate. 

Training includes theory and practical work on how to take blood from potentially vulnerable groups like children and the elderly. It also covers the multiple ways to take blood and how to do this safely.

People in this profession deal with a huge variety of patients across a multitude of departments, depending on which illness or disease is being treated. Phlebotomists could be working with outpatients or in A&E, with nurses, GPs or biomedical scientists, depending on their experience and their planned career development. They may even visit patients in their home or at residential or care facilities.