How to Become a Blood Bank Technician

What is a Blood Bank Technician?

Blood Bank Technicians are trained professionals who work with patients who require services related to blood donations and transfusions. They usually work in a variety of settings including hospitals and clinics under the direct supervision of a medical or clinical manager and have duties related to patient care as well as to blood testing in a laboratory setting.

Blood Bank Technicians interact with patients who want to donate blood from every walk of life and with a range of conditions. They also have to perform a range of duties related to administration and paperwork, so they must be current with the standards and guidelines related to blood transfusions and donations.

What Does a Blood Bank Technician Do?

The duties of a Blood Bank Technician can vary depending on their home state and on their education and experience in the field. Generally, Blood Bank Technicians collect, label and prepare blood and other blood components such as plasma under the direct supervision of a medically trained manager. The blood they collect is used for transfusions, so they also perform a range of screening activities to ensure that the donations are safe for medical use. This usually involves interviewing potential donors and screening samples to ensure that the blood is healthy.

Blood Bank Technicians start by interviewing prospective donors to uncover any conditions that could make their blood unsuitable for use. Once the interview process is over, the Blood Bank Technician ensures that the patient is comfortable and calm before drawing the blood.

They usually do this by explaining the procedure thoroughly and allowing the donor to voice any questions or concerns. This requires good communication and people skills, and is one of the most important parts of their jobs. At that stage, if the donor is calm and ready to proceed, they draw the blood.

Blood Bank Technicians also monitor the donor’s vital signs throughout the procedure and notify their manager if there are any signs of problems. Because of this portion of their job duties, they require a working knowledge of some of the medical aspects of blood donation as well as an understanding of the potential problems that can occur.

Once they have drawn the blood, the Blood Bank Technician perform a range of tasks that prepares the blood for future use. This includes separating the blood into its components, testing for communicable diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis, and testing the blood for compatibility, antibodies and group antigens.

After this process is complete, the Blood Bank Technician stores the blood so that it is ready for use. They also complete all the paperwork necessary for the donation and the future use of the blood. This requires an in-depth understanding of the laws and regulations surrounding blood donation in their home state. They also have to be aware of and adhere to any regulations put in place by their employer.

What Do You Learn in a Blood Bank Technician Degree Program?

A Blood Bank Technician Degree program includes a range of practical and didactic courses and training. This includes:

  • Chemistry: Blood Bank Technicians must have an understanding of chemical processes related to blood and disease and be able to use chemical substances to test for specific diseases and conditions. After the testing processes, they must be able to dispose of the chemicals safely.
  • Biology: Blood Bank Technicians need to have a good understanding of anatomy and physiology, both so they can draw blood safely and easily and so they can recognize signs and symptoms of diseases and conditions that make blood unsafe for transfusions.
  • Computer Skills: Blood Bank Technicians need to be able to use computers to record patient information as well as any results from blood testing. They also need to be able to record information about each blood sample in medical programs so it can be used correctly.
  • Blood Drawing Techniques: Drawing blood is not as simple as looking for an arm vein. People with diseases or other conditions that affect the blood or veins may need alternative drawing techniques, which is why Blood Bank Technicians need to learn a range of strategies to draw blood safely and without causing damage or pain.
  • Infection Control: Blood can carry a range of diseases that threaten the health of the Blood Bank Technicians and patients who require transfusions. Which is why students need to learn to handle and store blood safely.
  • Ethics: Any type of medical practice carries ethical responsibilities and concerns that Blood Bank Technicians need to learn about and adhere to in their practice.
  • First Aid and CPR: Blood Bank Technicians need to learn a range of lifesaving techniques in case of complications from the blood drawing procedure.
  • Medical Equipment Use: Blood Bank Technicians need to use a range of medical equipment to draw blood, test it for disease or conditions that could make the blood unsuitable for use, and to store the blood safely. This requires a good understanding of medical equipment and use.
  • Medical Terminology: Blood Bank Technicians need to work with doctors and other medical specialists and be able to understand medical orders and written instructions. This means they need to understand a range of medical words as they relate to blood taking and disease.

What are the Requirements to Become a Blood Bank Technician?

Educational and Training Requirements

There are a wide range of paths to becoming a Blood Bank Technician depending on your professional background and your career aspirations. Generally speaking, Blood Bank Technicians do not need as much formal training as other medical specialties. When starting out, they require a certificate or associate degree that includes phlebotomy training.

If you want to enroll in a Blood Bank Technician program you need to have a pass plus two in Biology, Physics and Chemistry at the high school level to be accepted into the certification or associate’s degree. This type of certification usually takes 1-2 years to complete and is offered at technical schools and hospitals, but there are also several schools that now offer these courses online.

A large component of Blood Bank Technician programs is the phlebotomist training. This training teaches students to work safely with blood and other tissues to ensure that the blood is fit for use in transfusions. It involves a range of medical courses as well as extensive training in the medical equipment that Blood Bank Technicians need to use to perform their work duties. After graduation the students have to pass an exam before they can receive their phlebotomist certification.

The requirements do change across different states, so if you want to be a Blood Bank Technician you need to make sure you explore the requirements in your area.

Certification Requirements

There are a range of certifications that you can enroll in if you want to advance your skills in Blood Bank Technology. These certifications give further medical and practical training as well as some industry specific training so you can work in a range of fields and perform more complicated tasks and procedures related to blood taking.

What Does It Take to Become a Blood Bank Technician?

To be a Blood Bank Technician you need a range of skills, traits, and qualities including the following:

  • An understanding of technology: Blood Bank Technicians need to use a variety of medical and computing equipment and need a good understanding of the different technologies and their various uses.
  • Manual dexterity: Blood Bank Technicians must perform a variety of medical tasks including blood taking and testing and need the manual dexterity to perform them quickly and smoothly.
  • Attention to detail: In the medical field, making mistakes or missing details can be fatal, so Blood Bank Technicians need to be able to focus on the details without getting distracted by external distractions.
  • Physical stamina: Blood Bank Technicians work long hours and sometimes need to do overtime, which requires a lot of physical stamina.
  • Good verbal communication skills: Blood Bank Technicians need to be able to talk to patients from a range of backgrounds and make them feel comfortable and safe throughout the blood taking procedure.
  • Medical knowledge: Blood Bank Technicians need to be able to judge patient conditions and perform lifesaving techniques when necessary, so they need a good understanding of certain medical conditions and techniques.
  • Good problem solving abilities: Blood Bank Technicians need to be able to analyze blood samples for problems and use logic to determine the appropriate solutions.
  • Healthy vision: Blood Bank Technicians need to be able to look for problems in blood samples, so they need full color vision and good visual acuity.
  • Good written communication skills: Blood Bank Technicians are responsible for a range of administrative tasks, which means they need to have excellent written communication skills.
  • Organization skills: Blood Bank Technicians need to take care of a range of tasks and juggle multiple patients at the same time, which requires good organizational skills.

What is the Average Salary of a Blood Bank Technician?

The average salary of a Blood Bank Technician varies depending on their home state, their education level, and how much experience they have. According to Payscale, the hourly rate of a Blood Bank Technician is between $20.78 and $44.58, with an average of $29.66 per hour as of March 2018. Their yearly pay is between $43,353 and $93,259.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), claims that the median annual wage for technicians in May 2016 was $38, 950. This is the wage at which half of the workers earned more and half eared less, though there is a lot of variability around that number.

What is the Job Outlook for Blood Bank Technicians?

The future of Blood Bank Technicians looks good. Because of a number of factors, it is estimated that employment in this field will grow 12 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is higher than the average for all occupations. This is due to general population increases as well as increases in the aging population of most western countries. Both of these trends are putting an ever greater demands on doctors and other medical specialists, which leads to the outsourcing of their duties to other medical professionals such as Blood Bank Technicians.

This field is likely to become more competitive as the need for it grows, so professional certification is important for good job prospects.

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