Some of the biggest and burliest Illini athletes can become scared little children when faced with a needle, said Jennifer Glass, who has been a phlebotomist at McKinley Health Center for about seven years. And Glass’ warm, convivial personality – plus her love for all kinds of sports – can put a quaking patient at ease right away. A native of Peoria, Glass graduated from Woodruff High School, Peoria, and worked as a phlebotomist at Carle Clinic in Urbana for 10 years prior to joining the UI’s staff.
Did you go through a phlebotomy program at a community college?
No, Carle trained me on the job.
What got you interested in the field?
It was an easy way to get my foot in the door of the medical field without having to have a whole bunch of credentials.
How many patients do you see every day?
We see 50 to 80 patients a day, and I draw their blood. No one really knows what a phlebotomist is so they call me a ‘vampire.’
I love the population, love all my students. I give them grief all the time. You have patients who are scared, and you have to make it fun so it’s not so scary for them. You have to have some compassion and get their mind off of it, to mother them and let them know it’s OK.
It’s funny that there are big football players who barely fit in the chair, and they want someone to hold their hand while their blood’s drawn. It’s amazing to me how many students have gotten to college age and have never had their blood drawn.
What kinds of things do you do to put people at ease?
I’m a big Chicago Cubs fan, so we always have conversations about that, especially since the Cubs are doing so well right now. My patients have to be Cubs fans as long as I’ve got the needle. During football season, I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I love sports. My daughter, who is 19, plays softball and volleyball. My son, who is 13, plays basketball, football, baseball and runs track and does karate. Every day after work, I’m at some practice or some game. Before my daughter went off to college, my husband would have to go to one kid’s game while I’d go to the other kid’s game. Sometimes we could meet up at one game, but not very often.
I’m the parent rep for my son’s football team: in charge of the fundraising and the financial stuff, ordering the T-shirts, planning the snacks and the drinks, making sure kids get rides to practice and rides home. I’m also the cushion between the coach and the parents. I’ve been the parent rep for the past two years.
Your kids really keep you busy.
They do, but I love it. I love being a mom. And I always say: ‘Everyone has choices. And if you’re at your kid’s practice or a game, you’re not at the detention center waiting for a visit.’ I can complain that I’m never home, but there are alternatives. I also have a 2-year-old niece whom I love to spoil. And, boy, is she spoiled rotten. I’m paying my sister back for the way she spoiled my two kids. I love being an aunt.
My husband is a correctional officer at the Champaign County Jail. We love going fishing. We also have a time-share in Puerto Vallarta and hope to go for a week in January. When we’re there, we go to the beach, go on cruises, parasail, stroll around the downtown. We like to travel and have been to Niagara Falls and the Bahamas. The Bahamas is really pretty, and I’d much rather go there than Puerto Vallarta but it’s way too expensive.
I also do home health care and stay every other weekend with an elderly lady who is blind.