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What’s It Like Learning to Draw Blood?

Published: August 25, 2021

You’ve gone to the doctor’s, had a blood sample taken, and it was probably pretty quick and relatively painless. But do you even know what the trained professional who drew your blood is called? He or she might be a phlebotomist. While a doctor or nurse can draw blood, it’s the specialty of a phlebotomist. And like with any medical profession, you need to train for the role. It’s a process where you learn, watch, and practice, practice, practice.

What Does a Phlebotomist Do?

A phlebotomist draws blood from patients for medical tests, research, or blood donations. Most of the time you take blood through a patient’s veins and that’s known as venipuncture. But sometimes, you only need a tiny bit of blood and it can be gathered from capillaries. If you’ve ever gotten a finger prick test, the phlebotomist is taking your blood from a capillary.

How Do You Learn to Draw Blood?

To become a phlebotomist, you need to get professional training in the actual procedure of drawing blood. But you’ll also need to learn a lot about patient care. So, your instructor will teach you how to set up and sanitize your station before and after each patient. You’ll learn how to confirm your patient’s identity, label all samples accurately, and enter info into a medical record. After all, you wouldn’t want someone to get the wrong test results back! And you’ll know to have all your sterilized equipment and vials ready to collect the blood.

Then, you can get down to the business of drawing blood or performing a venipuncture. You’ll follow these steps:

  1. Locate a vein in your patient’s arm
  2. Apply a tourniquet about 4-5 finger widths above where you’ll perform the venipuncture
  3. Perform hand hygiene and put on gloves
  4. Disinfect the site
  5. Have the patient form a fist
  6. Enter the vein at a 30-degree angle
  7. Collect blood
  8. Release tourniquet before taking the needle out
  9. Remove collection tube
  10. Withdraw needle
  11. Apply clean gauze

If you’re concerned about actually performing the blood draw, don’t worry. Your teacher isn’t going to let you work on a real patient right away! First, you’ll learn what to do and how to do it. Then, you’ll practice on models. They look like human arms, but they’re definitely not. Once you master the technique of a venipuncture on a dummy arm, then you’ll get to try it on a human.

Safety Protocol for Phlebotomists

Since you’ll work with needles and handle bodily fluids, it’s important to know the proper safety procedures to protect your health and that of your patients. You’ll learn how to properly prepare your work area as well as how to clean and sterilize equipment. You’ll also learn how to properly dispose of hazardous materials, and how to prevent patient infections.

Nonblood Specimen Collection

As a phlebotomist, you might also be required to handle specimens such as urine or stool samples. During training, you’ll learn the proper way to collect and label these specimens.


Interested in becoming a phlebotomist? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of phlebotomist is expected to grow much faster than average through 2029.

Charter College offers a Phlebotomy training program that can provide you with the knowledge and skills to succeed in this field. We offer a flexible year-round schedule and classes are enrolling now. Call 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more.