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Learning on the job - Maggie Cameron, phlebotomist

Fourteen years ago, when Maggie Cameron was looking after the elderly, she never dreamed she would one day be a phlebotomist.*

In 2007 when the elderly lady she was caring for passed away, Maggie successfully applied to work as a Health Care Assistant (HCA) at Auckland City Hospital and stepped quickly into her role on Ward 71 (kidney and liver transplant patients).

It was a role that perfectly matched her deeply caring nature. On the ward, Maggie answered bells, ordered stock and kept the ward tidy. But she says the best part of her day was having conversations with patients.

“Transplant patients stay for a while and get to know us well,” says Maggie. “We hope that talking to them helps with their healing."

In 2008, Maggie applied for a phlebotomist role advertised on our careers website, never thinking she would get it. She was thrilled when LabPlus hired her as a part-time Medical Laboratory Technician and her training began.

“In those days we learnt from training officers and hands-on with patients,” recalls Maggie. “Today we have ‘Charlie’ a working model with big, juicy veins to practise on.”

After being made full-time, Maggie started studying for the Qualified Phlebotomy Technician exam. “Not being a nurse, I had no idea about anatomy,” she says. “It took longer to complete than I hoped but I didn't give up. I was lucky to have Daisy Medalla, a Phlebotomy Educator, assigned as my tutor.”

Maggie passed the three-hour written exam in 2018. She now works across our hospitals doing venipuncture (the traditional way of taking blood) and microcollect (finger or heel prick for babies). She also does Mantoux tests (tuberculosis screening) and specimen reception at Greenlane.

Putting patients at ease comes naturally to Maggie.

“Sometimes people are scared or I may be working with kids at Starship or newborns,” says Maggie. “I put myself in their or their family’s shoes and do my job in a caring way.”

Maggie’s career advice is simple. “Believe in yourself,” she says. “I never ever thought I’d be doing this and I’m so grateful LabPlus trusted in me. Thank you to my colleagues for supporting me throughout my journey.”

* A phlebotomist collects blood from patients for lab tests and blood banks.

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