How do we love phlebotomists? Let us count the ways.

Apr 27, 2017 | News

To say thanks for their work, especially during BC’s opioid crisis, SPF treated the team to a pizza lunchTo say thanks for their work, especially during BC’s opioid crisis, SPF treated the team to a pizza lunch

In broad terms, and combining inpatients and outpatients, on a typical day St. Paul’s is caring for about 1,000 patients.

As many as 850 of these patients will have a sample of blood taken.

Janice Bittante, Manager of Laboratory Operations at St. Paul’s, which oversees this side of patient care, describes her team of phlebotomists, health workers who specialize in drawing blood, as “the face of the lab.”

“Not all health professionals are patient-focused,” says Janice, “but with phlebotomists, that’s all they do. The majority of their time is spent with patients. The field tends to draw people who not only want to work in health care, but who want to be with and care for patients.”

Additional insights from Janice show this to be true—and provide a peek behind the curtain when it comes to just how good phlebotomists are with patients.

“Phlebotomists become very good at judging how people are feeling about the experience they’re about to have,” Janice says. “Part of their training is, how do you calm people, how do you give them a sense of control? From engaging in chitchat to interpreting facial expressions and body language, making eye contact, phlebotomists become highly adept at the art of social interaction.”

And then, in what conjures comparisons to slight-of-hand artists, Janice reveals that in the midst of this interaction that is meant to relax you and distract you, your phlebotomist is also scanning your arm for a vein, removing a needle from its wrapper, getting out their tubes, tools and other equipment.

“Most patients never notice all that’s going on in just those few minutes,” says Janice.

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