February 02, 2009

Jobs I've done: Phlebotomist

When I moved to Utah from Texas in September of 1991 I started looking for work just about anywhere, but one of my first calls for a job interview came the plasma center. Initially I expected it to be kind of a research place, where I'd be lucky enough to be part of the team that discovered the cure for a disease or something life changing like that; however it really turned out to be the semi-sanitized version of a blood bank but hey, I couldn't be picky, I needed a job and needed it fast!

I was in charge of doing the acupuncture injections to patients that basically came to sell their plasma and make sure that their IV fluids were kept on for the entire process. They would get the arm poke, get an IV with saline solution going and we would start drawing their blood--again, very similar to donating blood. There were comfortable recliners for donors to sit on and TVs with movies or other shows going at any given time, and we'd give them juice or other drinks while they sat there squeezing a sponge ball while their blood was drawn. Where it would get freaky was when we were done drawing their pint, we'd run it to the lab, the red blood cells were spun and separated from the plasma and other components and the donor waited about 15-20 minutes for this to happen. Once their red-blood cells were done, we'd put the bag back into the IV and the cells would be injected back into the person---hu?

This process allowed the donor to come in about twice a week to do this procedure instead of having to wait weeks as a normal blood donation and get roughly about $20 a shot. Now before you think this was the ideal job for a hobo or a homeless person, we had people from all walks of life coming in to do this, students, young and old, male and females. Sure, we had a good representation from the homeless , but there was good variety in all age groups and genders. There were times when things got a little crazy because someone would either pull their IV themselves or because they hadn't used the bathroom before they sat and IV fluids + juice + not using the bathroom before is a recipe for disaster!! But for the most part people were highly cooperative, decent and respectful. One of the things that I vividly recall is having a couple of people already having the hole in their arm basically callused and they knew exactly where to put the needle, if we allowed them they would have probably been able to do it themselves!!

If wasn't the most horrible job, but it wasn't the best job either, I lasted in this job roughly about 2 months, until someone from a job I had previously applied and took forever to call and do interviews contacted me. I offered to give two weeks notice, but when I told my boss about my new job she said to just go, she understood how this worked! It was an experience, to say the least!!!

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