From Kitchen to Lab: Finding a Career

on in Staff Spotlight

A year after graduating Lompoc High School, Amy Misner was working in the LVMC cafeteria, serving meals and staffing the cash register.

She met her future husband that way, and also found a career. One day while working at the register, a coworker stopped by and mentioned she was leaving her job as a hospital phlebotomist and asked Amy whether she’d be interested in applying for the position.

Amy recalled wanting to be a nurse when she was in elementary school, so a job in the lab seemed one way to have an impact on people’s lives. “Everything lines up for a reason,” Amy noted.

She’s now been a phlebotomist for about 23 years, and she ended up marrying the man she eyed while working the cash register in the café. She and Andy have been married 20 years.

A phlebotomist works in the hospital laboratory and draws blood from patients or outpatients for clinical or medical testing. In her job, Amy must properly identify the patient, interpret tests requested on the requisition, drawing blood into the correct tubes with the proper additives, accurately explaining the procedure to the patients, preparing patients accordingly, practicing standard and universal precautions, performing the skin/vein puncture, withdrawing blood into containers or tubes, ordering tests per the doctor's requisition and delivering specimens to a laboratory.

When she transitioned from the kitchen to the lab, Amy was able to get on-the-job training from her friend and learned as she went.

The training she received made her a strong phlebotomist and gave her a sense of pride, she said. “I love the interaction with patients, caring for them,” she said of her job.

While some patients may be seen only once, others come to the hospital frequently for repeat blood tests on a routine schedule. “We form relationships,” Amy explained. “It’s nice. I might impact their lives, but they impact mine. Some get to know us and ask for us when we’re working. We see them in good times and bad times. It’s like we’re going through it with them.”

She also values her coworkers within the lab, she said. “The team, when we all come together, that’s what I thrive on,” she says. Phlebotomists work throughout the hospital, drawing samples from patients in medical/surgical, the ER and Critical Care, for instance. “It’s a very active job,” Amy says. “On a slow day, there might be 30 patients. On a busy day, we can see 60 patients.”

Amy Misner

Taking a needle to someone’s arm to draw a blood sample wasn’t an easy task to start as a new phlebotomist, she admitted. “When you start, you’re shaking and nervous,” drawing blood, she said. “It takes time to build up your confidence. It probably took me six months before I was pretty confident with my skills.” Because having patient contact is crucial for her, she hasn’t sought to have a job more related to working in the interior of the lab. She did earn her EMT certification and considered becoming a paramedic prior to having a child.

“I’m glad I stayed a phlebotomist,” she said. “I’ll probably retire being a phlebotomist.” She highly recommends it as a career path. “Phlebotomists are always needed,” she said. “It’s a good, stable job. You get to learn a lot. It’s a good stepping stone for Clinical Lab Scientist or nursing. It’s a wonderful job.”

Nora Wallace
Written By Nora Wallace, Public Relations
Nora Wallace was previously employed as a newspaper reporter for 25 years at the Santa Barbara News-Press. At LVMC, Nora is also responsible for the hospital volunteers. She is a graduate of Santa Barbara City College and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from San Francisco State University.