From a fear of blood to phlebotomy

Blood collection

Have you ever wondered who was collecting your blood when you visited one of our collection rooms? It was a Phlebotomist, someone who is responsible for safely collecting samples from patients before they are sent onto our laboratories for testing.

Phlebotomists play a critical role in healthcare, often finding themselves interacting with patients at times of uncertainty and stress. Here we speak to Lia Chapman, the Cantabrian who overcame her fear of blood to join our team of over 700 Awanui phlebotomists.

“How did I become a phlebotomist? Well I had six years’ worth of experience in the media, working for Mediaworks and the company that produce What Now. And then long story short, COVID came along and took my job away.

Thankfully my mum was a microbiologist for SCL for many years, and she was like, why don’t you try the lab? I thought she was joking at first because I have a History degree and didn’t do very well with science or maths at school!

But I managed to get a job quickly, which was a relief, and within days I was COVID screening patients. Once New Zealand transitioned down alert levels and that wasn’t required anymore, my boss told me they would like to keep me on as a phlebotomist. Again, I laughed because I had a huge fear of blood. It only took someone walking past with a tube full and I would feel queazy.

It took me about a month for me to eventually take up the offer, and the team had found out by then so they made me witness a blood test to see how I would go. Everything in me was just determined to hold it together. I did feel light headed at first, but I just kept watching and watching and watching.

It also helped that I loved being out in the community, and a fire had been lit inside me I guess … plus I really wanted to move out on my own again! Sorry mum …

But once I was over that, I learnt to embrace the support aspects of the job. I’m naturally empathetic and being an anchor for someone whose going through it, even if it’s just for five minutes is something that I never experienced working in the media. That’s what I think makes you good at this job.

What’s the one thing I hope for? I think that it’s for Māori and Pacifica people like me to become more aware of the career opportunities that phlebotomy and laboratory work has to offer – representation makes an important difference to our communities.”

Interested in phlebotomy?

Our phlebotomists are trained to provide excellent customer service and high quality care to our patients. This is a busy role, with our team processing tens of thousands of patient tests over a day. Working from our 150 collection rooms across Aotearoa, our phlebotomists also do home visits and provide collection services at private hospitals, rest homes and some doctors’s surgeries.

Many of our phlebotomists have no formal training when they start with us, just great customer service skills and a desire to help others. In time, you will need to achieve your Qualified Medical Laboratory Technician (Phlebotomy) certification, and we will support you through that process. Keep an eye out for vacancies here.

More updates