April Josselyn, Marketing Associate at Mayo Medical Laboratories, takes a closer look at the Mayo Clinic Phlebotomy Technician program.
The importance of a phlebotomist was evident as April approached “Desk C” in the subway level of the Hilton Building. The line of patients waiting for phlebotomy services was 20-people deep, but it was moving at a fast and structured pace. The large, atrium-style waiting room was filled with individuals from all over the world, receiving care from health care providers who represent all specialties across Mayo Clinic. The results from these patients’ blood draws would play an essential role in helping their health care teams determine diagnoses and the most appropriate treatment plans.
It’s not simply a blood draw. It’s a decision-making tool to allow our patients the best possible care, and these test results could provide answers that the patients and medical teams have been waiting for.
A Tour of Hilton Desk C
Did you know that more than 1,200 patients have appointments at Hilton Desk C every day? Another 1,000 patients are seen at the Charlton Outpatient Services Desk and the Baldwin Laboratory Services area, but that number doesn’t account for the Southeast Clinic, Gonda 10, Mayo 5, outcalls to nursing homes, and the Gift of Life Transplant House, or inpatient phlebotomy services provided at our Saint Marys and Methodist Hospitals. This is why the need for phlebotomists is ongoing and so important.
Knowing the great need for this role, how does someone get started in the growing field of phlebotomy?
Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences (MCSHS) Phlebotomy Technician Program
To start your career in the field of phlebotomy, you need a high school diploma and must complete a phlebotomy technician program (typical programs last nine weeks). Many schools around the country offer phlebotomy technician education, and Mayo Clinic is proud to offer one of the best. Each year, up to 75 students are eligible to complete the program and have the opportunity to work as a phlebotomy technician at Mayo.
April wanted to see how a student first attains the skills required to become a phlebotomy technician at Mayo, so she stepped into the Phlebotomy Technician Program classroom in the Baldwin Building to test her skills.
April said it was a rewarding feeling to complete a successful blood draw (even if it was on a “fake arm” with artificial blood). She had had no prior phlebotomy experience, so the program instructors walked her through the entire process. “They were pretty patient with me, which was nice,” she says.
April also learned that there are many one-on-one opportunities for instruction in and out of the classroom setting. The students have to complete approximately 100 successful blood draws on a mannequin arm (see photo), on each other, and on patients in the outpatient area (with supervision, of course) before they are ready to move into the hospital setting for the second half of the program. Some students may approach even closer to the 200 mark during the first half of the program if they pick up the skills quickly and the patient census is high.
We Don’t Just Draw Blood
Stereotypes and false perceptions often diminish the true importance of a job, and sometimes, the phlebotomy technician role falls into that trap.
“We aren’t just drawing a patient’s blood,” Adam L. Hofschulte, Laboratory Service Technician, said. “We often act as a patient’s counselor, easing the anxiety and fear of needles that can accompany a blood draw.”
“I am given hundreds of opportunities each day to change a patient’s perception of a blood draw,” says Hofschulte. “There are few professions that offer the opportunity to make a difference in so many patients’ lives.”
Phlebotomists may also perform non-blood-collection duties such as retinal scans, “chain of custody” urine drug screening, electrocardiograms, educating patients, administration of tuberculin skin tests, and they may even start IVs.
The skills attained by a phlebotomy technician provide the opportunity for other positions at Mayo Clinic too, such as within the Blood Donor Center or with IV Technician Services. Also, rotations between inpatient and outpatient settings provide variety to the job and the potential to transfer to other phlebotomy service areas across Mayo sites.
Interested in the Program?
Up to 15 students are accepted into the Phlebotomy Technician Program every 10 to 11 weeks. Visit the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences page for course details.