Blood is an essential aspect of modern health care. Every diagnostic test that depends on blood concentrations of some or other compound, depends on a phlebotomist. Knowledge about phlebotomy is more or less mandatory for anyone working in health and social care. Even if it’s not likely for you to take blood samples yourself, you may need to support colleagues or patients, or request blood tests. So, it's considered good practice for all staff to understand basic aspects of phlebotomy. 

What is ‘phlebotomy’?

Phlebotomy is a routine task in hospitals. Simply put, phlebotomy is the process of drawing blood directly from veins of patients. Phlebotomy arrangements are included with GP surgeries, out-patient clinics and other healthcare settings as well. Phlebotomists draw blood, prepare it as samples, label the samples to the correct patient, and send them off to the labs. 

What sort of things can blood samples help with?

A wide range of medical conditions and illnesses can be diagnosed using the chemical content of blood samples. It's also an accurate way of measuring and monitoring the progress of managing certain medical conditions such as diabetes, liver or kidney heart disease or. some health issues and 

Clinical and care staff using this skill

It’s a recent development that professionals other than doctors and senior nurses started performing phlebotomy. The past couple of decades brought significant changes to medical roles.

Health care institutes now encourage student nurses, medical students, associate nurses and trainee phlebotomists, to carry out phlebotomy. Paramedics might perform phlebotomy under special circumstances. However, there are specialists focused specifically on phlebotomy known as ‘phlebotomists’.

Phlebotomists draw blood for a variety of purposes, including taking paediatrics blood samples, Glucose Tolerance Tests, and administering intravenous treatment. A key aspect of the job is to find veins effectively even under pressure.

How to become a Phlebotomist?

Qualifications and skills needed

Phlebotomists are generally trained on the job. So, if you want to specialise in phlebotomy, you should apply for a trainee phlebotomist position at a hospital or GP surgery.

The minimum age to begin training is 17.

While there are usually no entry requirements, some employers may ask for at least two GCSEs (or equivalent) a highschool diploma. More demanding employers and trainers require a BTEC or equivalent vocational qualification in health and social care, or previous healthcare experience, i.e. as a healthcare assistant.

Personal Skills

As a phlebotomist you’ll have to work closely with patients and relatives. So it’s important to have personal skills such as, 

1. Being kind and caring
2. Good with people
3. Organised
4. Communication skills
5. Work as part of a team
6. Follow instructions
7. Be patient

As part of your workplace training you will receive a specialist training course where you have the chance to learn about these skills for your role. 

The need for specialised training

Even though phlebotomy is considered a routine procedure, you still need to be trained properly.

There are risks and complications if phlebotomy is not carried out carefully enough. However simple it’s still an invasive procedure and performed with utmost accuracy.

Important aspect of the job is knowing how to minimise discomfort, pain or distress for your patient as well as reducing the risk of infection. Not only for your patient but for you as well. 

Training helps you draw blood smoothly, minimise the risks and manage the patient’s response efficiently.

If you are a registered nurse, paramedic, doctor etc you will have professional accountability when performing phlebotomy yourself. With these conditions you should have some qualification at hand.

You may have to take refresher training

If you haven’t performed a phlebotomy in a while and want to get back into the profession, you’ll need refresher training. Luckily for you the NHS holds annual refresher training for phlebotomists that are out of touch provides proper certification as well. All you’ll have to do is submit your previous experience and the time you took off. 

Ways to become a phlebotomist

Phlebotomy theory training: Online Courses

1. One Education: Phlebotomist Training

This Phlebotomist training course is designed as a comprehensive review of the venipuncture procedure, instruments and supplies. General safety, infection control, and specimen handling are also part of the course. 

Initial learning includes anatomy and physiology of the veins for safe and effective venipuncture. The course focuses on all the necessary skills to perform basic and advanced venipuncture safely. Completing this course helps minimise the risk of pre-analytical errors.  Find the course here.

2. Alpha Academy: Phlebotomy Training 

The Phlebotomy Training course covers key aspects of venipuncture such as sample collection, tracking, identifying, and labelling. You’ll learn the responsibilities of a phlebotomist, as well as  basics of human anatomy and physiology of the veins. 

The course briefly explains how to keep instruments sterilised in order to avoid complications or the spread of infections. Find the course here.

3. Coursegate: Phlebotomy Technician Training

This course initially focuses on the entire phlebotomy procedure in-depth and covers fundamentals of anatomy and physiology. The training includes use of essential equipment, specimen handling, and collecting blood samples safely. Find the course here

Practical training:

1. One Education: Phlebotomy Technician Training

This practical training course features in-depth information on composition and circulation of blood and the physiology of venepuncture. It also covers best practices, infection prevention measures and handling contagious samples. Find the course here

Phlebotomy Technician Training is the highest rated Phlebotomy training program on UK’s largest job and recruitment market Reed.

2. NHS Hospitals

NHS hospitals provide practical training for new employees on a regular basis. It is part of the phlebotomist recruitment program. The training covers all industry practices and guidelines. However separate certification is not provided for these trainings. You have to include this training as part of your job experience with the NHS.

3. Private Clinics

Similar to the NHS private employer may provide training for phlebotomist recruits although the opportunities are limited. Promisingly though the training quality meets the national standard quite well and are easily transferable to other organisations.

4. Diagnostic Laboratories

Training provided by diagnostic laboratories is more streamlined than the previous procedures. It is because the conditions in diagnostics are quite controlled and require very little specialization. However, it’s still an excellent opportunity to set out on a career in phlebotomy.

Specialist training:

NHS specialised Training Programs

The NHS annually holds limited period specialist training in phlebotomy. The training is results oriented and highlights the safety guidelines and special techniques. It’s a good opportunity to carry out these special techniques on volunteers for practice.

Research Laboratories

Working at a research laboratory allows you to work under specific restraints. This means you need to follow unorthodox guidelines to prepare research samples. You’ll be able to learn specific techniques and methods of storing blood that are usually unheard of in the healthcare sector. It’ll also expose you to cutting edge technology.

Blood Banks

Blood banks frequently organise walk in events where phlebotomists can attend by showing their credentials. These events usually include talks from leading experts and personal accounts from current phlebotomists. Such events provide volunteering opportunities for practice as well as demonstrations from phlebotomists in leading positions.

Workplace competency

After completing any one of these trainings you’ll have to work under the supervision of a skilled and qualified phlebotomist (e.g. senior nurse, phlebotomist supervisor). This is commonly known as a ‘workplace competency assessment’.

During this supervised period your performance is measured against standard competency frameworks. 

The factors your mentor would be looking at, 

  1. Whether you have a clear understanding of relevant legislation, national guidelines, organisational policies and protocols that relate to collecting blood.


  1. Your respect towards accountability and reporting any problems.


  1. Your method of drawing blood.


  1. The type and function of various blood collection systems.


  1. Your ability to recognise and respond to adverse reactions.


  1. Your patient management skills, manage their experience and provide information on the procedure.

Choosing a training provider

While choosing programs for the training providers there are certain aspects you need to consider. If you’re considering using an external training provider, you should base your choice on things such as:

  1. Cost: What value do you get for your money.


  1. Keeping up to date: The course content is constantly updated


  1. Will it prepare you to meet the Skills for Health: Standard for procedures.


  1. CPD: Provides CPD hours and meest your revalidation requirements.


  1. Quality: The training providers accreditation and evidence of their quality assurance plan.


  1. Qualifications of trainers: Are they accredited in this field from an appropriate health related organisation.


  1. Certification: Proper certification is provided upon completion.


  1. Reviews: does the training provider have testimonials from previous trainees.


  1. Syllabus content: The content takes into account regulation set by the WHO (World Health Organisation), European Health Commision and other unanimous bodies.

Ending Notes

After completing phlebotomy training programs, you can become a member of the National Association of Phlebotomists (NAP) or become an associate member of the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS). These provide information on best practice and new developments in this field. The membership also provides networking opportunities with colleagues who routinely perform venepuncture to stay updated.

As with any clinical skill it is important that you keep up to date with industry reforms. You may want to consider subscribing to professional newsletters as well as networking with other colleagues who routinely perform venipuncture.

The phlebotomy profession is reliable and in-demand. The demand is expected to grow by 25% by the year 2026. Whether you’re a fresher or health care professional, phlebotomy is a must have skill set for a stable and secure career.

Author's Bio: 

Wasif Hossain is a part-time blogger and loves to dig information.