Learning MLA procedures has been one of my favorite experiences. Prior to this course I was always fascinated by phlebotomists. I wanted to how they knew where the veins were to make a successful draw. I wanted to know how they were able to draw blood from people with deeply embedded veins like me. Moreso, I wanted to know what colours on the tubes meant.
Learning MLA procedures finally gave me the opportunity to learn and understand the process of phlebotomy. I enjoyed learning what the coloured tubes stood for and the proper order in which blood must be drawn. The most difficult part of the course was remembering which tubes were used for the myriad of tests and ensuring the proper number of inversions once the blood was in the tube.
The importance of mixing, storage, safety, proper disposal, as well as proper labeling techniques, were useful things to learn. The effect on blood composition if the tourniquet is kept on too long was another interesting discovery. During labs, I was nervous just thinking about puncturing skin and delicate veins and possibly hurting a patient. This made me very uncomfortable however the reassurance of my instructors made the process much easier.
To help me learn the proper techniques, I had the opportunity to work with a prosthetic arm prior to working on an actual patient. Over time, I was able to build my confidence and reduce my fears. The one thing I was dreading is my hand slipping and impaling someone. That fear again, was worked through by the lab instructors and I learned techniques to avoid such an occurrence. Becoming familiar with straight and butterfly needles was another favorite of mine. I discovered I like using butterfly needles best because they allowed me to let go of the needle while interchanging tubes.
I found my instructors open and receptive to my legitimate fears and they worked with me to get past them all. Overall, finally getting to practice what I learned on an actual person was most rewarding. During labs I got to practice on my classmates. I encounter typical and atypical vein patterns as well as individuals who found needles to be intrusive and made them nervous. I learned techniques to calm my patient as well as read body language to determine patient stress levels. The main purpose was a successful draw, however patient safety came first. Getting to work on my classmates gave me immediate feedback and I was able to learn from my mistakes and reinforce what I did well. The experience helped me transition to actual patients seamlessly. Overall, I found working with individuals who had the same concerns and goals that I did, enhanced my learning experience.
Check out a video of our cardio tech students in action.