ST. GEORGE – Most have experienced it. A doctor says blood work needs to be done, and a dozen pokes and prods later – sometimes more for those suffering with “little vein syndrome” – the doctor has the needed blood and the patient has a sore arm that resembles a pincushion.
Once in a while, however, in walks a calm and cool phlebotomist who manages to hit home and find that tricky vein with one swift, painless poke. Brian Treu is such a phlebotomist.
“I always tell people that phlebotomy is 99 percent arm preparation, 1 percent needle insertion,” Treu said. “It’s all about what you do prior to putting the needle in that’s going to make you successful or not.”
Treu, who has personally performed more than 277,000 blood draws in his lifetime, knows what he’s talking about when it comes to phlebotomy, or the medical practice of drawing blood from a human vein.
Treu is the founder, CEO and owner of Phlebotomy Training Specialists, a phlebotomy certification school that has been in business since 1993 but just opened a St. George facility in March, located at 511 E. St. George Blvd., Suite F.
Phlebotomy Training Specialists has built a nationwide reputation for teaching phlebotomy the right way, and students have traveled from all over the country and even internationally to be trained by Treu and his staff.
“There are people who know what they’re doing in a lot of industries,” Treu said, “but there’s nobody who knows what they’re doing as well as we do in our industry.”
Each class at Phlebotomy Training Specialists lasts less than four weeks, and at the end of that period, students completing the program are fully certified and ready to enter the workforce. Prior students can also return for refresher courses and industry updates anytime, free of charge, for the rest of their lives.
“Our curriculum is new every single month,” Treu said.
Because the school’s faculty is comprised of experts working within the industry, school curriculum is constantly updated to keep up with industry developments and changes, so students receive the most current information and training available.
“Our instructors are some of the most elite individuals in some of the most high-profile positions in the state,” Treu said. “So not only are you getting trained in the right content and curriculum but you’re getting trained by hyper-confident individuals in the field of phlebotomy, as well.”
When Treu decided to open a school more than 20 years ago, it was in response to an urgent need he saw within the industry.
“I noticed, working in the hospital after I got my first job, that most of the people were quite incompetent,” Treu said. “There weren’t any formal, structured training programs – not only in Utah but really anywhere in the country.”
Treu said phlebotomists in medical settings were merely training others who were new on the job, and there wasn’t any kind of structured program available anywhere to teach a correct method.
“I decided that I wanted to change that,” he said.
So Treu founded a mobile phlebotomy school. He began teaching out of his car, traveling from doctor’s office to doctor’s office in his Honda Civic to provide onsite training. The school grew and, in time, students began coming to Treu instead of the other way around, and physical training centers replaced the Civic. To date, Phlebotomy Training Centers has seven locations and will have 21 by the end of the year. By the end of 2015, Phlebotomy Training Centers will have 115 locations to give budding phlebotomists a strong start in the industry.
Treu himself got into phlebotomy in a very unconventional way.
“I got into this business from a fear of needles, actually,” he said. “I was scared of needles, and a friend of mine tried to get me over my fear. And once I got over my fear, he trained me how to draw blood. The story is actually hilarious – his name is Jason Blood.”
Treu’s wife introduced him to Blood, and Blood got him started on a path that turned into a lifelong career.
“Jason introduced me to phlebotomy,” Treu said. “He helped me get over my fear of needles and taught me how to draw blood, and the rest is history.”
Once in a while, Treu said, he encounters a student who, like him, wants to complete phlebotomy training in order to overcome a fear of needles or blood. For most, though, the month-long phlebotomy program is an accelerated pathway to a steady career. Phlebotomists fresh out of the program earn an average of $12 an hour in the state of Utah, Treu said, and with accrued experience that pay rate goes up.
Phlebotomy training can translate into a variety of jobs, including working in plasma donation centers, blood banks, doctor’s offices, medical clinics, laboratories and hospitals, as well as working in dialysis and performing paramedical examinations.
“Everywhere there are people that are sick, there are going to be people drawing blood,” Treu said. “So pretty much everywhere, because there’s no place that people aren’t sick.”
Students in the phlebotomy program, which is very hands-on, are trained in lab processing, drug testing, general medical procedures and how and where to get a job. The school has a 98 percent pass rate when it comes to obtaining certification, according to the Phlebotomy Training Specialists website.
Obtaining national certification is not currently a requirement for obtaining work as a phlebotomist, but Treu recommends it, and every student in his program has the option to become nationally certified. If a student fails the certification exam, the school will pay for that student to retake the exam until the student passes.
“Bottom line is, if a school will not give you 100-150 blood draws and a national certification to go with it, you need to keep looking,” the school’s website says.
Treu said Phlebotomy Training Specialists not only offers some of the best training available in the industry, but it’s offered in a way that attracts and engages students from all over the nation.
“This is dynamic, vibrant, energetic, fun,” he said.
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