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Tips for 1st job as a Blood Banker?

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Hi all!  I'm new to the forum :)  Hope this is in the right thread! ;) 

I'm going to be a generalist in March, starting with Blood Bank.  However, haven't had any job experience in Blood Bank.  My goal is to start out strong by preparing as much as possible before training.  I have some questions for the awesome well-seasoned Blood Bankers out there:

  • What material or resources do you recommend to study for CLS's who are going to be starting in Blood Bank?  Any books, websites, charts, pictures, that you have used or think is helpful?
  • Do you have or use any specific workflows / thought processes / tips that you personally use that help you work more seamlessly in the lab?
  • If you'd like to share, how was your first job & initial experiences in Blood Bank? 
  • When you first started out or even along the road in your careers, what did you wish you knew then, that you know now?

Thank you for your kind responses! c:

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I would read the book, "Modern Blood Banking and Transfusion Practices" by Harmening.  It is pretty easy read unlike the Technical manual. Plus it has short quizzes at the end of the chapter.

As far as workflow you probably need to wait to see how your BB does things. Only thing I tell Techs that I train on the simple things such as loading the centrifuge or setting up their tubes for testing is to  be consistent in how you do that task, don't flip back and forth.

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I, too, am a generalist, and have been for my whole 34 year career. I enjoy Blood Bank, but after our small hospital was bought by a large hospital group, we were trained to do the work the way the the group does Blood Banking. It was good to go through the training. It wasn't that everything was changed, it was that we were now going to do testing the same way as all blood bankers in the group. So, as slsmith said above, you might want to wait to see how your BB does things. 

At our hospital, we run types, antibody screens, DAT's, fetal cell screens and crossmatches (electronic and serologic if indicated). Everything else is sent to the main central Blood Bank.

My advice to you is to figure out how you do testing (whether on your own or the "company way"), and always do it the same. Set up your tubes the same way every time; add reagents in the same order, etc. This way, if there is ever a question about your testing, you know that you always do it the same. Also, during training, don't just do the minimum. Test until you are comfortable with the process. You want to be confident in your work. Lastly, always take responsibility for your work. If a problem arises or your work is questioned, be ready to explain what you did. Knowing the procedures and processes will help you be able to troubleshoot these issues.   

Good luck in your new job as a Generalist. As I said, I have been doing this for a long time, and I still love what I do!

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Follow policies / procedures.

Pay attention to details.

Don't be afraid to ask questions.

Pat yourself on the back when you make it through your first Massive Transfusion Protocol!

Let the adrenaline work for you -- keep calm and work on.

Enjoy Blood Bank -- I've been doing this for 30 years, and I love it!

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1. The AABB Tech Manual, the AABB Standards, Harmening's book is good, Issit's "Applied Group Serology" is excellent; Mollison's "Blood Transfusion is Clinical Medicine" is excellent;  Blood Bank Guy - a very useful site; this forum - always useful.  The AABB website.  National websites (AUS, New Zealand Canada) for their blood services.  ARC and UBS (now Vitalent) - our big national blood suppliers.

2.  Get a set pattern of working set up that you can follow (within the ways your Blood Bank likes to do things: tubes, automated, computerized, etc.);  ALWAYS do the work the same way - keep things in the same order always - your tubes, your results, your units as you work with them and label them.  I have trained people who I watch do things in a completely random order, especially as they load the centrifuge - then they had to straighten out every thing to read it and enter it in the computer.  Waste of time and very confusing - it will get you in BIG trouble someday when you are in a hurry.   At the same time - things will change overtime - new computer, new instrument, etc. - be adaptive to change.  If you need to set up a new pattern because it is more efficient or works better with a new instrument (especially computers) - be willing to change and adapt.

3.  Always keep an eye on processes - make sure they follow the Standards and are being done correctly.  Watch for inappropriate procedural drift - don't just change the procedure to "your" way just because you think it works better - it may be the other way for a good reason.  If not - talk it out and see if you can initiate change.  Blood bankers can be slow to change, but they follow rules for VERY good reasons.

4.  You just always wish you knew more.  Patients don't always follow the "rules" and situations can be very fluid in trying to get the right products to the right patient at the right time - and YOU will be the one holding the line on staying within safety rules (and yes, they do scream at you sometimes.)  Most Drs and many RNs do not know a lot about Blood Bank - you will answer many questions.  Always try to keep learning.  Remember always  - there is a patient at the other end of that conversation and they need your help.  You may be the only one with the right and safe answer, but you have to find a way to help the patient 1st.

Best of luck - enjoy the adventure.


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