Simphiwe Zanele Mthimunye – a qualified phlebotomist – must have fielded a lot of questions on what her job entails and what its significance is to humanity. This is because she is pursuing one of the STEMi careers that is unglamorous and probably unknown to most young people. Yet the importance of phlebotomy cannot be ignored as we rely on its services almost every day in our health facilities.
As phlebotomist, Mthimunye specialises in blood collection or draws blood from patients for laboratory testing, diagnosis and prediction. Her profession is regarded as an essential part of modern medicine because they always have to be alert and ensure that blood that is drawn from patients is uncontaminated so that it yields credible and accurate results during blood testing. Contaminated blood renders useless the results of the tests or diagnosis. Mthimunye says as a qualified and well-trained specialist her number priority is to ascertain at all times that the blood is not tainted during the draw.
Overcoming needle phobia
Medical experts say in modern medicine 80% of diagnosis are based on the results of blood tests. In addition, they say, in most instances some of the medical issues such as blood disorders, bacterial or viral infections can be picked up through blood tests. Phlebotomists can also help patients with needle phobia to overcome it by putting them at easy before and during the blood draw. Among the youngest in her field, Mthimunye has already won some notable accolades in her profession. She was the first black woman to receive the award for ‘Excellence in Phlebotomy’ by the Society of Medical Technologists in South Africa (SMLTSA).
An inspiration to young women
Mthimunye believes in the power of women and says her achievement is not only a testimony that women are as capable but that it will also serve to inspire others to believe in their dreams. She is not only a qualified and successful phlebotomist but she is also an avid businesswoman in her own right. She owns and operates a beauty bar in Port Elizabeth called Glamspot.
She says one can only achieve success by simply believing in oneself, adding her journey was hard at first but thanks to her self-trust and self-belief she was able to negotiate the hurdles thrown her way. Mthimunye says despite facing incredible odds and curve balls she is happy and proud that these have not stopped her from pursuing her dreams.
Women with many hats
Even though she has achieved some of her ambitions, such as qualifying as a phlebotomist and founding her own business, Mthimunye believes there is a need to empower others who may want to follow in her footsteps. To accomplish this noble mission, Mthimunye started canvassing her idea to those who share the same vision. Although most supported the idea, battled to get it off the ground due to lack of funding. But this has never deterred her as she created ‘Role Model Luncheons’ as a fund raising tool.
Through this, Mthimunye was able to inspire and impact the lives of many youth she interacted with. She says the luncheon sessions enabled her to help many youth set up their own businesses while others furthered their studies or careers. Mthimunye believes anyone can make a huge difference and change someone’s life for the better by contributing the little they have.
Relying on her boundless and youthful energy, Mthimunye is pursuing other interests. Other than practising as a phlebotomist, operating Glamspot business which is also franchising, she is also toying with the idea of opening up her own psychology practice. On top of that, Mthimunye wants to set up an education foundation to cater for students starting with 100 of them.