BY CATRESE MEDLEY | STAFF WRITER
BLKPRENEURSHIP THE MAG | 11/01/2022
Many healthcare facilities are experiencing a critical shortage of workers. The reasons for the shortages vary widely. Many workers are retiring at a much quicker rate than employers can replace them. Those that are still in the workforce perform the jobs of multiple people to keep up with the staffing demands. Staffing demands lead to burnout. This is the number one reason people are leaving the healthcare industry. To add insult to injury, Covid-19 has contributed to the attrition of healthcare workers, with many deciding that the health risk is not worth it—even with double the pay. When hospitals, physicians, and nursing homes don’t have enough staff to provide the best care for patients, they must outsource the work. Many of us have experienced frustration at the low staffing ratio, particularly when loved ones need medical attention. Unique Phlebotomist LLC, owned by Kizzy Williams, is an organization providing a much-needed solution, primarily in phlebotomy.
What is phlebotomy?
Phlebotomy is not a usual term that people readily spout off. When we need blood work, we call it just that. We may even say lab work or blood draw. Phlebotomy requires the use of a needle to take blood from a vein. The resulting collection of blood is used for lab tests. Working with blood is not for the faint of heart. We caught up with Williams to see why she does what she does.
Williams has always had a love for healthcare. She originally enrolled in a pre-med program but then realized that was not where she wanted to focus her energy. She then contemplated nursing and again decided that was not the field she wanted to enter. Williams found her niche through research and settled in the field of phlebotomy. She enrolled at Professional Skills Institute and graduated in 2004.
After graduating, she found herself searching for an atmosphere that resonated with her and settled into a position at Quest Diagnostics. Williams reflected on the experience and lamented, “There’s a big turnover rate for phlebotomy. I didn’t know that until I got started in the business.” She decided that the politics and demands of working for someone else were not what she imagined for herself. She knew she wanted to be in business for herself. This was the catalyst that pushed her to go back to school for her Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management degree.
Raised to Stand Out.
Williams was raised by parents that made sure she knew the value of college and setting goals. She grew up as the oldest of three girls and felt that being the oldest carried much responsibility. She had to be a role model to her younger sisters. That often meant being strong, even when she thought everything was against her. When Williams was nineteen, her father passed away. She smiled at the memory of him and said, “My dad had his own printer company. It instilled in me the idea of owning my own and being an entrepreneur—period.”
Unique Phlebotomist LLC.
Williams became an entrepreneur when she started Unique Phlebotomist LLC, a mobile phlebotomy company, three years ago on March 2, 2019. The company partners with a variety of labs, including TravaLab, United Diagnostic Lab, Ulta Lab Tests, and Biodesix Labs. Clients all over the Michigan and Ohio area use Williams’ services. Clients include people who are bound to their homes, people in nursing homes and people in hospitals dealing with short staffing issues.
In April 2022, Williams added Unique Phlebotomy Academy to the Unique Phlebotomist LLC family to help address short staffing. The academy is accredited by National Phlebotomy Solutions and has the authority to grant phlebotomy and phlebotomy teaching certificates to students nationwide. Upon completion of the academy and a certificate in hand, students are eligible for employment in most states.
Currently, federal requirements for licensure or certification are non-existent. Only four states require certification or license to draw blood. If you happen to live in California, Colorado, Louisiana, and Nevada, you need to be fully licensed and certified to practice phlebotomy. Employers are more likely to hire individuals with certification, so even though it may not be required, it is beneficial, and Williams maintains that it will set the candidate up for success.
Aptly named, Unique Phlebotomy Academy provides an atmosphere that is set apart from the rest. The academy provides an intimate and inviting atmosphere, complete with a classroom and lab. The six-week course size is limited to six participants, and many students enjoy the ambience and the ability to have individualized attention. Classes meet three days a week in the mornings or evenings, depending on student’s schedules. The labs teach students the process of venipuncture and students practice on silicone covered mannequin arms. The mannequins are fully functional with veins filled with fluid, so students get the real feel of a blood draw. Students also learn by drawing blood from live individuals and are required to have a certain number of successful draws before a certificate is granted.
The affordability of the academy is unique as well. Students have the option of paying in full or making monthly payments. Unique Phlebotomy Academy is priced competitively; tuition is $1200 and must be paid before a student is allowed to take the certification exam. Payment plans are available and include a small down payment.
Williams states that her decision to structure the academy in such an affordable way stems from one of her weaknesses, her propensity for assisting others. “I like to help people. It’s a blessing and a curse in its own way,” she says.
Standing in the Gap.
Helping others and being the person to cultivate dreams and inspire goals is especially important to Williams. She is thankful that she had parents to provide a loving environment full of support but adds that many of her students do not. Many students confide in her and reveal extreme trepidation at the thought of starting a new career or venturing into the business of phlebotomy. Williams is always willing to lend an ear and a supportive heart. She recognizes that many students have financial problems and are not always able to make tuition payments on time. She never turns them away. She quips, “I work with them. I’m working on being sterner and being able to say ‘no’ because this is a business. My only failure is that I’m too kind.”
Not only does Williams help students looking to embark on a new career path, but she also helps those who want to start their own phlebotomy business through consultations. This includes mobile businesses and certification granting businesses. People as far as California contact Williams via Facebook to learn how to start one of their own. She is currently in the process of making certifications available online.
Keeping Everything in a Positive Perspective.
Oftentimes, Williams needs someone to stand in the gap for her. This help comes in the form of spiritual guidance. She confides in friends and is a strong believer in God. Whenever she feels like she doesn’t belong or the dreaded imposter syndrome tugs at her, she takes a moment to recharge and breathe. She offers, “I have learned to put it all in God’s hands. He works it out every time.”
She advocates for entrepreneurship and believes that what makes one successful is the ability to stay focused. Staying focused is important to her, as she believes people are always watching and that she has inspired people she doesn’t even know. Her eyes twinkle as she speaks about her children and how they provide the motivation she needs. She adds, “My kids are watching me too, so I have to keep going. I want to make sure their futures are secure.”
Williams enjoys going to the movies, catching up with friends and spending time with her children to unwind. She believes that having a balance between work and play is optimum.
Pointers on Starting a Phlebotomy Business or School.
Staying focused means keeping a mindset to always be in learning mode. Williams recently held an online seminar in June that gave future business owners a blueprint on establishing their own phlebotomy business or school. Here are a few takeaways.
- Choose your school’s name. Put some thought into the name and make sure that it is not taken.
- Apply for your business license and research funding that is available in your state.
- Find office space. Make your space big enough for the class size you would like to start with. Make sure your space is up to code with the requirements of your state. Most importantly, make sure you can afford it.
- Create a curriculum for your class. If you need a little help, Google is your best friend.
- Stay up to date on your skills.
- Plan your grand opening.
Many components make up entrepreneurship. Williams is a firm believer in taking the time to plan and says that it is paramount to owning your own business. Learning and perfecting the skill of phlebotomy is equally valuable. Learning business skills like sales and marketing are important as well. Social media is a huge part of marketing.
How Can You Support Unique Phlebotomist LLC?
Social media and technology have had a tremendous impact on Unique Phlebotomist LLC. Advertising on social media platforms like Facebook is how people have been able to contact her to get more information and enroll in classes and webinars. Williams feels that the best form of support is to spread the word and share social media posts.
Sharing is essential to help the business grow but staying positive is critical. Williams has encountered negative posts seeking to discredit her businesses. People have made comments on the business not being a reputable institution out of sheer ignorance. She displays all her accreditations on social media posts and encourages prospective clients and naysayers to do some research.
What’s Next for Ms. Kizzy Williams?
Williams plans to incorporate more technology into the classroom in the future. She feels that the innovative technology of infrared vein finders would make the teaching and learning experience easier. Vein finders are expensive and there are many manufacturers to choose from. Williams says, “Yes, I absolutely must have one. It will help provide a faster learning curve for students”.
To help with the cost of upgrading technology, Williams is in the process of applying for grants. She says there are a lot of grants she does not know about. She spends most of her time outside of the classroom educating herself in different ways to fund her businesses. Right now, all expenses come directly from her own pockets.
Williams does her part in alleviating some of the staffing issues in the field of phlebotomy, making it easier for people to get important lab work when it matters most. She encourages others with actionable steps to branch out of their comfort zones and begin the process of owning a profitable phlebotomy business or simply beginning a new, life-changing career.
Are you interested in exploring the career of phlebotomy? Contact Unique Phlebotomist LLC for more information.
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