Phlebotomy empowers teenage mother to not become another statistic

This accomplished phlebotomist and instructor found her calling at a trade school while searching for a career that would enable her to support her children as a single, teenage mother. Not only has she been able to survive, but she has flourished in the field, now working both as a practicing phlebotomist, and as an instructor and author, teaching skills to future phlebotomists and writing her own curriculum.

What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?
I am a phlebotomist with 21 years experience. I work in the allied healthcare industry as well as education. I both perform and teach phlebotomy. Adjectives that describe me are highly skilled, committed, and experienced.

How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?
Myth: Phlebotomy is easy, and anyone can do it…
Fact: Phlebotomy is not for everyone, and it takes SKILL to perform this seemingly routine and easy ask.

What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best? Do you speak another language, and has it been helpful in your career?
I am a part Caucasian, part Hispanic female. It has been challenging (not necessarily hurtful) in my career, because people look at me and automatically assume or expect that I am fluent in speaking Spanish.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?
10…I love my job, and the only thing I think I would change is pay scale. I feel that the highly skilled and experienced phlebotomists in the field are under-paid, under-appreciated, and not always recognized for our expertise.

If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?
It moves me and excites me when a frightened patient who has had a bad phlebotomy experience comes to me with great trepidation, and I am able to ease their fears, and successfully draw their blood and they exclaim “Wow, you are good! I didn’t even feel it,” or, “Nobody has ever got my blood on the first stick!”

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
I was a single teenage mother who refused to be just another statistic… When I began my training in healthcare, I was terrified and had no previous experience. I was shocked and amazed at how good I was in this field, and very surprised to realize this was my passion. I was so fortunate to find my calling at such a young age (only 20 years old when I started.)

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I wanted an education that wouldn’t take me 4 years to achieve, so I enrolled at a trade school that had a 6 month program, never imagining that 15 years later I would become an instructor at the very same school. I wouldn’t change a thing, as I believe that it has all worked according to God’s master plan.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?
I learned that not everybody wants to see you succeed; that some people are very jealous of my accomplishments, and that misery loves company. I learned this when my instructor from 1990 became my boss/supervisor in 2010, and when she saw that I, the former student had surpassed her, the former instructor, she was so envious of me that she made my work life nearly impossible. I was forced to seek employment elsewhere. I was very disillusioned by her behavior, as she had been my mentor for 20 years, someone who I tried to emulate, and my expectation was that she would take pride in knowing that she played a major role in making me into the person I had become, but she instead hated that I had achieved such success.

What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?
That when you truly love what you do, it shows, and it makes getting up and going to work everyday not just easy, but enjoyable. It is easy to be great at what you do when you really enjoy it – loving what you do and having a passion for it makes work seem more like fun.

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

One day a patient came into my patient service center for a blood draw and she was a hard stick, and was very afraid because of previous bad experiences. She came in stating that I better be good at this. I assured her that I was highly skilled with many years of experience and I guaranteed her that all I needed was 1 stick, and that it would not hurt too badly if she just relaxed and took a deep breath. While she was distracted with the task of taking that deep breath, I performed the venipuncture. Her reply was “Wow, I didn’t even feel it.”

I told her that I used to teach phlebotomy. She then told me that she was the dean of a local college and had a phlebotomy instructor position opening in 1 month, and that she wanted me to teach that class.

Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?
I get up and go to work each day because I know that not everyone is as good at what I do as I am, and that my patients deserve and need someone who is good at it. I am very proud of the fact that my patients always leave satisfied with the service I have provided, and especially proud when patients that need to have their blood drawn specifically ask for me when they need to have it done.

What kind of challenges do you face and what makes you just want to quit?
My biggest challenge is co-workers who are jealous of my people skills and my phlebotomy expertise. NOTHING ever makes me want to quit – it is not in my vocabulary.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?
There is no stress at all, because I love what I do and I’m good at it. I maintain a healthy work balance by keeping my priorities straight: God first, family second, job third. I make sure to find time each day to find at least 5 things I am thankful for, and I make time each day to rest and relax, and spend time enjoying my family. Each day I take time to thank God for all He has done for me.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?
The salary as a phlebotomist ranges between 18 and 22 dollars an hour, and it is not quite enough, but I can manage on it.
The salary as a phlebotomy instructor is between 30 and 50 dollars an hour and I am extremely satisfied with that pay scale.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I have 2 weeks a year, and sometimes I wish it was more, but usually it is enough.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
The education that you need is to be trained at an accredited school.

You need to have people skills, good communication skills, patience (it really is a virtue in this filed), basic knowledge of the venipuncture/phlebotomy procedure, and willingness to continue to learn, a strong desire to be the best at what you do, pride in being professional, and a dedication and commitment to excellence.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
That it was the best decision I have ever made, but not to stop here, go further, and use this as a stepping stone…to use phlebotomy to open the doors to the medical field, but try to go further.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
I would like to be selling the phlebotomy curriculum that I have created/written/developed, while conducting personal training sessions to the instructors who plan to utilize/implement my curriculum.

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