Demand for blood donors also met with demand for phlebotomists

Hawaii seeing shortage of blood donations and phlebotomists
Published: Jan. 8, 2023 at 4:41 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 8, 2023 at 6:23 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - January is National Blood Donor Month. Not only does Hawaii need to replenish its blood supply, but there is also a need for the frontline workers who help collect it.

While some people are afraid of needles and blood, others are drawn to them and their ability to save lives.

“Stick the needle in, get some blood and call it a day. There’s way more to it than that, from what I can observe,” said Nicholas Jaughn, part of the Blood Bank of Hawaii’s training program.

He gets paid to get certified -- but it’s not for the faint of heart. “I do also want to continue my little family tradition of being a health care worker like to them it’s something to to honor and I want to be a part of that for my family,” he said.

For those who can stomach it, a career in phlebotomy offers endless growth opportunities.

“if they want to be in in health care, you know, and they want to work around healthy people and just get experienced, and this is the place to come,” said Kozzie Kennard-LeJay, HR manager for the Blood Bank of Hawaii.

You don’t need prior medical experience or a college degree -- just a high school diploma and a good attitude.

“If you have a great personality, you enjoy meeting people and you’re interested in healthcare, this is the place,” she said.

The Healthcare Association of Hawaii says there are about 900 phlebotomy positions in clinics and hospitals across the state. About 15% are vacant.

“The turnover rate right now for phlebotomy is around 26%. And again, that’s not unusual for entry level positions to have that high turnover rate that the challenge is that means you have to continually recruit and train individuals,” said HAH president and CEO Hilton Raethel, who adds that the shortage is not the kind of crisis that directly impacts the lives of patients.

“It just means that we can’t fill as many appointments so some of the testing can get backed up. So and it also means that the phlebotomist that are working, they may be asked to work additional shifts or works in overtime to help process all the people who do need to get their blood drawn,” he said.

To recruit more phlebotomists -- the industry is promoting it as a convenient entry point for a career in healthcare -- and an alternative for young people who think college isn’t for them.

For more information, visit or call 808-848-4770.

The Blood Bank of Hawaii is also hosting drives on the neighbor islands --- in Hilo on Jan. 17-19, Kona on Feb. 14-16, Maui on March 21-23 and Kauai on April 18-20.