Phlebotomy Training: Why Vascular Access Sleeves Are Better Than Manikins

human vascular access sleeve for phlebotomy training and venipuncture

To learn more about our Human Vascular Access Sleeve click here.

When learning to draw blood, insert an IV, or practice injections, medical students are often saddled with outdated or sub-par practice materials. All too frequently, their first attempts at venipuncture are made on clunky, expensive manikins that hardly come close to mimicking lifelike phlebotomy conditions. 

Simulation-based learning of surgical practices is tremendously valuable when it comes to skill retention and student confidence. The ability to practice venipuncture on a high fidelity simulator with no risk to participants is significantly more likely to effectively prepare students for real world applications. The problem is that too many products fall short of the necessary realism.

Granted, practicing on a plastic manikin is definitely better than jumping straight to drawing blood from a fellow student – a practice that, fortunately, isn’t as common as it once was. However, most phlebotomy and IV task trainers miss the mark when it comes to realism, price, and the ability to scaffold learning.


Setting aside the general immobility of practice mannikins, the materials used are usually too far from lifelike to be truly valuable. Many of the phlebotomy training models in use on university campuses are plastic manikins with “veins” made of latex tubing surrounded by a hard rubber exterior. Again, while this might be a better option than sticking needles in fellow students, latex tubing is a poor material for simulating human veins.

Not only do students have to apply significant pressure to pierce a latex vein, but latex is an unfortunately stretchy material. Practicing venipuncture on latex results in students habitually applying too much pressure, which can easily lead to puncturing all the way through a vein when attempting to draw blood on a patient.

What sets a high-quality vascular access sleeve apart from other blood draw sleeves or practice manikins is the incredibly lifelike texture of our product’s silicone veins. In order to give students the most realistic experience, these phlebotomy trainers closely replicate human veins in terms of durometer (hardness) and pliability. Students learn how to pierce the vein without pressing too hard, making them much less likely to leave their future patients bruised and upset.

Pricing & Accessibility

Venipuncture practice manikins frequently carry price tags that range in the thousands of dollars. They are also often difficult to repair, with replacement parts costing hundreds of additional dollars. At such a high price, schools can’t afford multiple training tools, and consequently, more students have to practice on fewer models. The result is less practice for the students and more expensive materials for schools.

In contrast, human vascular access sleeves are significantly more affordable. Schools can equip their labs with the entire training apparatus for the same price as just the replacement parts of a phlebotomy manikin! 

In addition to saving the headache of manikin repairs, our blood draw sleeves work for a minimum of 300 piercings without leakage. Students can practice again and again on the same training tool. Additionally, once they’ve exhausted the veins, replacing the skin is simple and a fraction of the cost of the sleeve itself. This means more students can gain more of the necessary practice to effectively draw blood or place an IV with minimal patient discomfort.

Scaffolded Learning

One of the key benefits of our vascular access sleeve for phlebotomy training is that it facilitates a scaffolded approach to learning venipuncture. Students can work their way through stages to master the skill set. Since the sleeve hooks over a model’s arm, students can begin their practice on a stationary manikin before moving on to the more realistic experience of practicing on a living model.

There are tremendous benefits to practicing venipuncture on a live person without the risk of injury. Attaching the sleeve to a stationary person will help students become accustomed to finding the correct angle of approach as well as learn to perform their tasks with an audience. Piercing the veins of a plastic manikin is a far cry from inserting a needle into the arm of a fellow human – even if it’s only simulated.

Once students have become comfortable drawing blood from the sleeve on a stationary arm, then they can practice role playing situations that are more challenging. Too many students aren’t prepared for the kinds of real-life patient experiences they are likely to encounter:

  • A patient who might pull away as soon as the needle touches their arm
  • A patient who stares at you while you perform the procedure
  • A patient who is anxious and in jeopardy of fainting, or who actually faints
  • A patient who talks to you the entire time
  • Missing the vein the first time and having to talk about it with the patient

These are just some of the valuable training experiences that a manikin simply cannot replicate. Practicing venipuncture on a living model is a completely different experience for the student. Whether it’s a comparison between a full-sized plastic manikin or a human-replica arm, the realism and portability of our vascular access sleeve provides students with better training at a fraction of the cost.

To learn more about our Human Vascular Access Sleeve click here.