Doing my job

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January 26, 2004 // UPDATED 2:39 pm - April 24, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Anne Hendrickson, Phlebotomist, Memorial Blood Centers, Downtown location: 115 Roanoke Building, 109 S. 7th St.

Anne Hendrickson, 23, aspires to be a physician's assistant. For now, she draws blood from donors in a traveling Memorial Blood Centers van. "In the meantime, I thought I'd better learn how to stick a needle in someone's arm," she said.

The blood van made a stop recently outside of LaSalle Plaza, 800 LaSalle Ave. Hendrickson and other phlebotomists screened donors by checking their vital signs and asking them a series of questions to determine whether they pose a safety risk to patients in need of blood. The technicians typically take 500 milliliters of blood from a donor -- a process that takes between five and 10 minutes.

Besides the Downtown Memorial Blood Centers location, there will be a drive Thursday, Jan. 29 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Art Institutes International Minnesota, 15 S. 9th St.

What is a phlebotomist?

A phlebotomist just means that I'm poking people with needles, getting them in the vein. I'm going for a vein.

How do you become a phlebotomist?

You can take a class at a Community College. Memorial Blood Centers will train you. The phlebotomy training is about two or three weeks long. You just practice on each other.

What's the key to your job?

Finding the vein easily -- not causing them pain. Really, blood donation is pretty easy just as long as the phlebotomist knows what they are doing and is confident.

Is there a certain time of a year when there is more of a shortage?

The summer is always seasonally low because people aren't keeping appointments and schools aren't in session. Over the holidays it is a little low because offices aren't keeping regular hours and don't invite us to come in.

Do things usually go pretty smoothly when you're taking blood?

Sure, but people get lightheaded on you. People pass out entirely. That makes for an exciting day. But most people are fine with it. High school students tend to have more reactions where they get lightheaded. They vomit or pass out entirely. They get really nervous and aren't used to it.