Berry changed all that. "She always managed to get my blood," Shaylor said. "I told her she was the kindest, sweetest person and she always managed to get it done."
Shaylor was one of the patients who held her breath at first, Berry recalls with a laugh. "I had to tell her to breathe. When I stuck her, she turned around and said, 'That's it?' Oh, my God. I didn't even feel it.'"
Berry attributed her skill to the training she received at Einstein and the compassion she has for the people who come to the lab. Sometimes she'll reveal to them that she's endured her own medical crisis, so she can relate to their worries.
"Sometimes I think patients feel that nobody understands what they're going through," she said. "I understand how it is, being in the hospital myself. And I'm a hard stick; I'm scared of needles myself."
So how did a person who's afraid of needles become a phlebotomist? Berry said she started playing nurse with her siblings when she was a little girl. "Ever since I was younger, I always pretended I worked in a hospital. I'd play with my sisters and say, 'You be the patient and I'll be the nurse.'"
"It's something I've always loved," she said.
And nothing can change that – not even frightened or hostile patients who hold their breath or weep. "