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I am a director at the Phlebotomy Training Institute

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National Health Career Association Certification Programs

As the healthcare field becomes increasingly competitive, employers are requiring more of their allied care professionals to obtain certifications. NHA offers eight different certification exam options and has above-average passing percentages.

What Is the National Healthcareer Association?

national health career association: nurse holding patient hand

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The National Healthcareer Association is a certification exam provider that accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). NCCA accreditation ensures that certification programs meet the highest standards for professional competence. As an NCCA accredited institution, NHA is required to maintain documentation on the analysis of job tasks, standard setting summaries, and exam pass rates.

In addition to certification exams, NHA offers study packages to help students prepare for testing. The NHA collaborates with academic institutions to share knowledge of student performance analytics, which helps facilitate student success. In addition, institutions can improve their programs through enhanced study materials, enhanced professionalism, and improved outcomes.

The Purpose National Healthcareer Association?

NHA’s mission is “Empowering people to access a better future.” Their goal is to be the gold standard of certification providers in the industry. To help achieve this goal, materials and testing standards are routinely revised and improved. NHA’s primary objective is to improve patient care through competency excellence.

In addition, the NHA also sees itself as an important industry advocate. The National Healthcareer Association is involved with regulatory and legislative programs to endorse the certification industry, and the NHA works to ensure the development and advancement of allied healthcare workers.

Information about National Healthcareer Association Certification Programs

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NHA offers eight different certification programs for health care providers including:

  • Medical Assistant Certification (CCMA)
  • Phlebotomy Technician Certification (CPT)
  • Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
  • Certified EKG Technician (CET)
  • Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist (CEHRS)
  • Certified Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A)
  • Certified Billing & Coding Specialist (CBCS)
  • Pharmacy Technician Certification (CPhT)

NHA certification exams assess the knowledge, skills, and tasks necessary to competently practice in allied health careers. Certification status is awarded to individuals who successfully pass their specialized exam. In order to sit for one of the National Healthcareer Association’s Certification exams, applicants are required to have:

  • Completed a training program in their area of specialization within the previous five years
  • A high school diploma or equivalent

Medical Assistant Certification (CCMA)

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Medical assistants perform multiple skills in a variety of health care settings. Not only can medical assistants perform clinical skills, but they also have important administrative functions. Medical assistants routinely interact with healthcare providers such as doctors, advanced practice nurses, and physician assistants.

Practice settings for medical assistants included doctors’ offices, health care clinics, urgent care facilities, and specialty centers. Medical Assistant Certification (CCMA) is a job requirement for many employers and can help advance the career of certified individuals.

In 2017, the pass rate for NHA’s CCMA exam was 72.9%. The certification is good for two years and requires continuing education and renewal fees to stay active. The exam consists of 150 scored items and individuals are allowed up to three hours to complete the test. The exam covers subject areas including:

  • Foundational Knowledge and Basic Science
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Clinical Patient Care
  • Patient Care Coordination and Education
  • Administrative Assisting
  • Communication and Customer Service
  • Medical Law and Ethics

Phlebotomy Technician Certification (CPT)

Phlebotomists are at increased demand in healthcare facilities across the country. The majority of companies either require phlebotomist certifications or are most likely to prefer certified applicants. Depending on the specific employer, Phlebotomy Technicians are required to:

  • Draw blood
  • Assess patients’ response and tolerance of the procedures
  • Administer point of care testing (i.e. blood sugar levels)
  • Prepare body fluids for testing
  • Utilize medical supplies such as specimen tubes, hypodermic needles, and blood vials

Phlebotomy Technicians typically work at hospitals, laboratories, and blood donation facilities. In order to qualify for the certification exam, applicants are required to:

  • Successfully complete a phlebotomy training program within the last five years
  • Successfully complete a phlebotomy training program within the last five years
  • Successfully complete a phlebotomy training program within the last five years

The National Healthcareer Association’s NHA Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) exam consists of 100 scored items administered with a two-hour period. In 2017, NHA’s had the highest pass rate for their Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) exam at 91.6%. Subject areas assessed covered in the exam include:

  • Safety and Compliance
  • Patient Preparation
  • Routine Blood Collections
  • Special Collections
  • Processing

Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)

holding documents

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Certified Medical Administrative Assistants perform clerical and administrative skills in healthcare office settings. Roles of Certified Medical Administrative Assistants may include:

  • Read and reply to both mail and email
  • Use computer technology to perform office tasks
  • Receptionist duties such as greeting patients, answering telephone calls, scheduling patient appointments, and maintaining medical records.
  • Managing employee reports such as time and attendance

NHA’s Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) exam consist of 110 scored items within a 2 hours 10 minutes time frame. NHA’s 2017 pass rate for the CMAA exam was 76%. Applicants are tested on subject areas such as:

  • Scheduling
  • Patient intake
  • Office logistics
  • Compliance
  • Patient education
  • General office policies and procedures
  • Basic medical terminology

Certified EKG Technician (CET)

Virtually all healthcare providers require EKG Technicians to pass the Certified EKG Technician (CET) exam prior to employment. Technicians must perform highly technical tasks such as performing EKGs, Holter monitoring, and stress tests. In addition, they bring patient results to physicians and transcribe test results.

The National Healthcareer Association CET exam is unique in that it not only certifies for EKGs, but also for Holter monitoring and stress testing. In 2017, NHA’s pass rate for the Certified EKG Technician (CET) exam was 89.4%. The NHA Certified EKG Technician (CET) exam consists of 100 scored items administered in a two-hour period. Exam content includes:

  • Safety, compliance, and patient care coordination
  • EKG acquisition
  • EKG analysis and interpretation

Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist (CEHRS)

Electronic Health Records Specialists are primarily responsible for ensuring complete and accurate patient data. Most healthcare employers require Electronic Health Records Specialists to be certified. Some of their roles include:

  • Auditing medical records
  • Coding and reimbursement
  • Medical records release requests
  • Gather patient demographics and healthcare coverage information
  • Communicate with physicians and insurance providers

The NHA Certified Electronic Health Record Specialist (CEHRS) exam contains 100 scored items given over 1 hour and 50 minutes. The exam pass rate at NHA for 2017 was 65.1%. Exam items include:

  • Software applications and equipment
  • Insurance and billing
  • Charting
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Reporting

Pharmacy Technician Certification (CPhT)

doctor checking

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Pharmacy Technicians are medical professionals that work in settings such as hospitals, pharmacies, medical offices, and grocery stores. Most employers require Pharmacy Technicians to have their certifications. Pharmacy Technicians may perform the following skills:

  • Process prescriptions from patients, doctors, and hospitals
  • Measure, package, inventory, and label medications
  • Maintain accurate medical records
  • Process payments and insurance claims

The NHA Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) exam consists of 100 scored items administered over 2 hours and 10 minutes. The NHA Certified Pharmacy Technician exam had the lowest pass rate in 2017 at 58.9%. Exam content includes:

  • Overview and laws
  • Medications and drug therapy
  • Dispensing process
  • Medication safety and quality assurance

Certified Billing & Coding Specialist (CBCS)

Billing & Coding Specialists have a variety of prospects for employment. Potential employers include hospitals, doctors’ offices, outpatient surgery centers, retirement homes, dentist offices, home health care agencies, behavioral health facilities, insurance companies, and consulting organizations. Essential skills for Billing & Coding Specialists include:

  • Obtaining and evaluating patient data
  • Documentation verification prior to release of patient information
  • Billing audits
  • Assistance with coding and billing
  • Assigning diagnostic and procedural codes
  • Submitting reimbursement claims

The NHA Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) exam contains 100 scored items and is administered over 2 hours. The NHA pass rate for the CBCS exam in 2017 was 71.5%. Exam content includes:

  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Claims Processing
  • Front-end duties
  • Payment adjudication
  • Coding knowledge application
  • Certified Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A)

Patient Care Technicians/Assistants are an essential need in the healthcare profession. They assist patients with activities of daily living and other essential tasks. PCT/As work in diverse healthcare environments including:

  • Long-term care facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Residential treatment facilities
  • Assisted Living
  • Other healthcare facilities

Patient Care Technicians/Assistants are skilled in multiple different tasks depending on their area of specialization. Some of their essential duties include:

  • Assisting with patient care
  • Obtaining vital signs
  • Dispensing patient care items
  • Cleaning and maintaining patient rooms
  • Some PCT/As are skilled in phlebotomy and EKG procedures

The NHA Certified Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A) exam comprises 100 scored items given over 1 hour and 50 minutes. NHA’s 2017 pass rate for the exam was 76.5%. Test items include:

  • Patient care
  • Phlebotomy and EKG preparation and monitoring
  • Safety
  • Professional duties
  • Infection control


national healthcareer association: Doctor with a stethoscope

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The National Healthcareer Association is a premier certification provider in the United States. With higher than average pass rates, superior competencies, and improved patient care. Employers benefit from hiring certified allied healthcare workers through improved workflow, safety and satisfaction. NHA should be the first choice for anybody seeking allied health certifications.

Venipuncture Definition

The commonly accepted venipuncture definition is that it is a procedure for enabling intravenous access for blood sampling or intravenous therapy. The analysis of blood is one of the most vital diagnostic tools available within healthcare. The data obtained from this procedure is highly dependable for interpretation of innumerable clinical signs and symptoms. It is one of most routinely performed procedures, through which diseases can be analyzed under a microscope. This helps in improving health and longevity by acting as a preventative measure.

Venipuncture Definition


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In venipuncture, the vein is punctured to draw a sample of blood. The most common area for drawing blood is the superficial vein of your forearm. However, phlebotomists or medical practitioners can draw blood from other places if needed. This procedure is performed by medical laboratory scientists, phlebotomists, paramedics, dialysis technicians, medical practitioners and other nursing staff in healthcare. Medical practitioners need to follow the procedures and steps as per the venipuncture definition.

Common Sites of Drawing Blood


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The most common venipuncture site is at the bend of the elbow, or the Antecubital Fossa. The Median Cubital Vein is close to the surface positioned within the Cubital Fossa. It is an ideal place for the purpose of venipuncture as there are no large nerves nearby. Other veins in this area include the Cephalic Vein and Basilic Vein.

In some cases, a medical practitioner or phlebotomist might choose another site for drawing blood. This is usually done when the technician is not comfortable with the three veins present in the bend of your elbow. Your healthcare professional might also choose another vein if the blood is not flowing properly through the Antecubital Fossa area. Other common sites include the dorsal vein in the hand or any vein in your feet. However, the veins in the feet are chosen only as a last resort.

Different Types of Venipuncture

Venipuncture definition states it is the process of getting intravenous access to draw blood. Hence, venipuncture also includes the process of starting an intravenous (IV) line. The venipuncture procedure is also used for administering medication, nutritional therapies, and chemotherapy.


Venipuncture requires detailed knowledge and skills in order to be performed successfully and painlessly. It is a complex function that needs specific equipment, care, and caution.

Equipment Required


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The equipment used varies with the type and purpose of venipuncture performed. However, some of the most commonly used items for this procedure are:

  •     Surgical Gloves
  •     Wipes/Swabs
  •     Tourniquet
  •     Collection tubes
  •     Needles
  •     Bandages
  •     Disposal Unit
  •     Gauze

Prepping for a Successful Venipuncture


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Step 1: Assemble Equipment

The medical professional should assemble all the equipment neatly on a tray. Make sure that the blood sample goes in for correct testing.


In this step, a healthcare professional will make sure that the patient is comfortable and calm. There are certain guidelines that need to be followed when you meet the patient. The phlebotomist will ask the name and identity of the patient clearly and also explain the purpose for venipuncture to the patient. Allergies of any kind should be identified and labeled properly.  Due precautions need to be taken in case the patient suffers from any sort of allergies. Other information such as complications during a prior venipuncture, dietary habits, fasting restrictions, and current medical treatment are also obtained.


The patient’s arm is extended and placed on a table or any flat surface to perform the procedure only after seeking verbal consent. The healthcare professional will probe gently in the area inside of the elbow to search for a vein. There is a maximum risk when using the Basilic vein, as doing so increases the risk of damaging an artery or a nerve.

The Basilic vein is also the most painful to draw from of the three major veins within the Cubital Fossa. The Median Cubital Vein is the ideal vein to draw blood from as it is good-sized and does not have any close proximity to other arteries and nerves. A tourniquet is tied right above the vein site at a distance of 3–4 inches. This makes the vein pop up and become more visible.


While the tourniquet does its job, the healthcare professional preps his/ her hands. They may either go and wash before donning surgical gloves or simply cleanse with an alcohol rub. This step can also be performed before tying the tourniquet. However, it is critical that a fresh pair of surgical gloves be used every time to prevent contamination and an infection.


The venipuncture area needs to be disinfected to prevent contamination. Alcohol is the best solution for disinfecting as it does not affect lab results as compared to povidone iodine. A 70% alcohol swab should be used to cleanse the site, wiped in a circular motion. The cleansing begins from the exact venipuncture point and moves outwards to at least 2–3 cm.

Procedure to Draw Blood

injecting medical shot

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Venipuncture can be performed only after the site has been prepped. The medical practitioner will place a thumb under the vein to anchor it. Care is maintained to prevent touching the exact site of venipuncture. The patient is requested to curl their fingers into a tight ball shape of the fist. The correct way to insert a needle into the vein lumen is to do so quickly and at an angle between 15 to 30 degrees by stretching the skin taut. Healthcare professionals are instructed not to cause excessive trauma by probing. The tourniquet is released once blood is collected. If multiple tubes are being collected, then the tourniquet is released before filling the last tube. It is critically necessary to release the tourniquet before removing the needle.

The needle should be removed in a single swift motion to prevent additional pain. Pressure with gauze is applied as soon as the needle is withdrawn to prevent any blood loss and hematoma. All tubes should be properly labeled and sent to the laboratory for testing. Any specific laboratory requirements are completed at this time. For instance, some laboratories require the test tube to be inverted multiple times.

A very important step in venipuncture is the destruction of needles and other items that touched blood. Needles are preferably discarded in a "Sharps" container while items that did not touch blood are thrown with general waste. The venipuncture site is inspected to check for bleeding or any other complications.


health medicine

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There are some areas that should not be chosen as a venipuncture site. These include areas where there are extensive scars or burn injuries. The arm on the side where a mastectomy has been performed and edematous extremities should also be avoided. Accumulated tissue fluids in edematous extremities can alter test results.

It is not advisable to perform a venipuncture on the arm where there is already an IV. The other arm should be used for drawing blood in such a situation. However, if there is no other way, then the IV should be turned off for at least 2 minutes and another vein used for drawing blood. An existing IV line might make it easier to draw blood as compared to venipuncture. However, the IV line should first be flushed thoroughly. Blood should be drawn slowly to avoid hemolysis. Blood should also not be drawn from the arm containing a cannula, heparin lock or fistula.


Venipuncture definition states a variety of benefits of this procedure. It is among the most routinely performed invasive procedures. It is also among the most important diagnostic tools available to healthcare professionals. Here are the common uses of venipuncture.


The first step to identifying any illness or sickness is to study a patient’s blood sample under the microscope. As per venipuncture definition, blood is obtained from the veins for laboratory testing to check for pathogens and other undesirables.


There area number of blood components that can cause severe damage to the body if present in inadequate or excess quantities. Real-time monitoring of blood components can be carried out by drawing blood and testing it.


Venipuncture definition states that it can be used to administer intravenous therapies. This includes administering treatments such as chemotherapy and medications. It can also be used to provide nutrition to the body through intravenous therapies.


The major purpose of this procedure as per the venipuncture definition is to take a blood sample from the body. It can either be done for testing purposes or to regulate blood levels in the body. For instance, red blood cells require being removed when iron and erythrocytes are in excess.

Blood Storage

Venipuncture is useful in collecting blood to be used later. For instance, blood transfusion begins with the procedure of collecting blood through a venipuncture.


vaccination set

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Venipuncture definition states it is the procedure of collecting blood by getting intravenous access. There are several factors that need to be taken into consideration while taking blood. Patient consideration is of primary importance. Venipuncture procedure requires specific equipment, knowledge, and skill to be performed successfully. Venipuncture can facilitate holistic and timely treatment.

Great Tips On How To Draw Blood

If you’re a nursing student or are studying to be a phlebotomist, you’ll need to be prepared to perform vital tasks, one of which is drawing blood. Phlebotomists are responsible for taking blood samples. But what if you’re a nurse and a sample needs to be taken right away, but the phlebotomist isn’t available? You need to know how to draw blood.

You may be surprised to learn that drawing blood, also called venipuncture, is not a standard procedure taught to nursing students. Why? Some hospitals deem it too risky to have nurses practice drawing blood. Because of this, they suggest that they go elsewhere to learn how to draw blood.

While it may not be part of your regular training, knowing how to safely draw blood can be crucial if a blood sample needs to be obtained quickly. A blood sample is required for most tests, which means it can be difficult to arrive at an accurate diagnosis without first drawing blood and testing it in the lab.

If you want to know how to draw blood, you can’t learn just by reading about it or watching demonstrations. It requires practical experience and training. Before you can practice drawing blood, it’s important to get a baseline understanding so that you’ll know what to expect. Follow safety procedures carefully, and you should have no trouble with this routine process. 

Finding The Vein

injecting arm

Before you can learn how to draw blood, you’ll need to learn how to find the vein. When drawing blood from an adult, try to identify the median cubital vein. This is a large vein that should be easy to draw from. It’s located between the bicep and forearm, also known as the cubital fossa. The median cubital vein is usually chosen because it poses little risk of damage to nerves or arteries.

In some patients, the median cubital vein may be visible just under the skin. However, each individual is different, and sometimes locating a vein can be more difficult. Nicotine can constrict veins, so if your patient is a smoker or any type of nicotine user, this might make the task more difficult.

Caffeine can also constrict veins, which is a common challenge when drawing blood early in the morning. Intravenous drug use causes veins to collapse, making many veins like the median cubital nonviable for drawing blood. In addition, some people have naturally smaller veins or mobile veins which roll instead of remaining stationary.

How To Draw Blood Safely

blood in phlebotomist hands

If you want to know how to draw blood, you need to be prepared for everything which might present a challenge. Consult a map of the circulatory system if you need help. You might feel out of your depth if you’re inexperienced with drawing blood. If you don’t feel you can go on, then you should ask for a more experienced phlebotomist to step in.

Before you begin, check for any signs of scarring from previous needle punctures, hematomas, or blood clots. If for some reason you can’t draw a sample from the median cubital vein, you can opt instead for the basilic vein, but know that this means a higher risk of accidental injury to a nerve or artery. If you patient has just undergone a blood transfusion, a surgical procedure, or has an infected wound on one arm, draw blood from the opposite arm instead.  

Gathering The Supplies

phlebotomist supplies

You might already have the supplies you need if you’ve got a medical kit handy. If not, you’ll gather the supplies you’ll need. This should be a simple matter if you have access to the medical supplies available in any hospital storeroom.

You’ll need disposable rubber gloves for your protection, biohazard bags which won’t leak, and a bag which won't puncture for you to dispose of sharp needles. These items are for your protection and safety. If, for any reason, you experience a leak or tear with any of the above items, stop the procedure immediately. Do not touch blood with your bare hands for any reason.  

You’ll need blood collection tubes, specimen labels, and the proper laboratory forms. The labels ensure that once the samples are drawn, they can be processed correctly by the lab tech staff. Without properly labeling your specimens they are likely to get lost among the hundreds of other samples, and a mislabeled specimen will cause confusion and might result in a misdiagnosis.

A tourniquet, gauze, and alcohol swabs will all be needed, as will adhesive bandages. It’s a good idea to have enough of these supplies to exceed the need, just in case you need more than you expected. Just be sure to return any clean, unused materials to the storeroom when you’re finished.

Finally, you’ll need needles and a device to transfer the blood into your collection tubes. Handle your needles carefully.  

Drawing The Blood

taking blood in arms

If you haven’t sterilized them already before you start it’s a good time to wash your hands to ensure that you don’t accidentally facilitate the spread of infection. This crucial step can save lives and prevent undue suffering to patients who might otherwise be exposed to bacteria present in hospitals and other medical facilities. When you’re done, apply your latex gloves.

With your materials collected and your patient ready, consult your forms to confirm that the test has been ordered by a doctor. When you’re ready to begin, speak with the patient you’ll be drawing blood from. Remember that this procedure might be frightening for them even if it’s routine for you.

Ask questions about the patient’s medical history. Are they aware of any allergies they might have to latex? Are they currently taking blood-thinning medications? Do they have a family history of hemophilia that they know about? Get as much information as possible to avoid a complication or issue arising from drawing blood.

Getting Started

blood in syringe

Once you’ve asked questions to reduce risk factors, tell the patient what you’ll be doing step by step as you go along. Make sure they’re informed of what you’re doing. This will help put them at ease and move the process along.

Instruct the patient to hyperextend their arm, then take the tourniquet and wrap it 3-4 inches above the cubital fossa if you plan to draw from the median cubital vein. You should wait no more than two minutes before beginning the blood draw. Ask the patient if they’re experiencing pain, numbness or tingling. Watch to make sure that the vein doesn’t change color.

So long as everything appears normal, and the patient isn’t feeling any unusual discomfort, you can proceed. The patient should make and hold a fist. It isn’t necessary to do this repeatedly. Holding a fist is sufficient. Tap the vein with your finger to dilate it, then take your alcohol swab and sterilize the area around the planned injection site.

Starting The Blood Draw

phlebotomist drawing blood in patient

With one hand, take your needle. Hold the patient’s arm below the injection site with your other hand. Hold the skin firmly to make sure that vein doesn’t move as you insert the needle through the skin and into the vein. This should be done at a 15- to a 30-degree angle.

If you’ve successfully punctured the vein, you’ll see blood appear in the catheter. Attach the collection tube and watch to make sure that blood begins flowing at a slow, even pace. When the collection tube has been filled, you can remove the tourniquet and withdraw the needle.

Quickly take your gauze and press down on the injection site. Wrap a bandage around the gauze to hold it in place. Take the used needle and place it carefully into your biohazard disposal receptacle. Remove your gloves and dispose of these as well. Be sure to label all your specimens carefully before depositing them in the lab.


blood donor

Knowing how to draw blood is something that all sorts of medical professionals will be called upon to do at one point or another. If you’ve never done it before, the process can be intimidating. The important thing is to pay attention, follow all safety procedures to the letter, take it step by step and get as much practice as possible before attempting to draw blood from a patient on your own.

If possible, look for opportunities for hands-on training from in your area. Courses in venipuncture are available in nursing colleges and medical universities. Seek them out if venipuncture isn’t part of your regular coursework.

Prospective employers, especially those in intensive care wards, want to be assured that you know how to draw blood. So do your patients. The more practice you have, the better chance you’ll have of anticipating problems before they arise. Even if you’re diligently paying attention to every detail, the unexpected can still derail you.

Any phlebotomist will admit that drawing blood requires intuition as well as preparation. With experience, you’ll gain the confidence to proceed with a venipuncture procedure even if you have difficulty finding a vein in the patient’s arm. But until you’re prepared, it’s a good idea to practice with easier blood draws. Now you know how to draw blood practice, practice, practice.