The new Director of the Center for Phlebotomy Education makes an introduction.
by Shanise Keith • January 01, 2022
At the end of September 2021, I found myself in a moving truck filled with all the inventory and equipment owned by the Center for Phlebotomy Education - the company of which I was about to be the new owner and Director. It was a two-day trip from Michigan back to my home state and then onto my new position. This journey was the result of months of planning and preparation. The truck was carrying me toward the start of my dream career, something that I still have a hard time believing came true. Each mile closer to home increased my feeling of hope and excitement for the future.
I had spent the previous week with Dennis and Catherine Ernst. They invited me into their beautiful lakeside home, making me feel incredibly welcome during my stay. It was my second trip to Michigan to meet with the Ernsts. The first trip was an experimental visit for Dennis and Catherine to get to know me, and of course, for me to get to know them. We had communicated online and by phone periodically but had yet to meet in person.
Fortunately, it was a very successful trip. Somehow I had won the Ernsts over. They liked me (phew), which meant a lot as I had admired them and the company from afar for many years. It was quite an experience to get to see it all up close. It's often said you should never meet your heroes, but in my case, I am so glad I did, as the Ernsts exceeded my expectations. I was amazed to be working with two people who had helped influence and shape the modern world of phlebotomy that we know and recognize today.
Up to this point, I had spent the last thirteen years working in healthcare in many different job titles and roles, but working as a phlebotomist was always my favorite thing to do. There is just something about the process that is so incredibly satisfying. I often say that phlebotomy is a type of artform. It takes years of practice and refinement to hone your skill into expertise. There are so many different factors that go into each and every draw. People don't realize the dozens of careful decisions that occur in the mind of the phlebotomist drawing their blood, decisions that can mean the difference between life and death.
After working in the field for some time, I had the opportunity to become a phlebotomy instructor at a technical college. I was unsure if I would be able to do the job. I knew I was a skilled phlebotomist, but trying to teach those things to others was an entirely different challenge. To my surprise, it quickly became one of the most fulfilling things of my life. Taking a group of students who knew nearly nothing about phlebotomy and turning them into knowledgeable and competent phlebotomists in a matter of a few weeks was a unique experience that I never grew tired of watching. Seeing them go from fearful and timid when dealing with needles, to being able to confidently perform the procedure and troubleshoot problems on their own, filled me with joy and pride EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. That feeling is something I am sure that all good instructors can identify with.
I loved teaching, and I did it for over ten years. Eventually, I became the program coordinator over phlebotomy, expanding and building the program at every opportunity. I based the program on the contents available from the Center for Phlebotomy Education and the CLSI standards. I became very familiar with the company and how it functioned. I could find no better source for phlebotomy information and training.
Oddly enough, though I was aware of the company, I had never contacted them. It was actually a student who set up my first conversation with Dennis. He emailed him and told him that I was his biggest fan and that I talked about the company a lot in class. Dennis reached out to me and told me what my student had said. We began communicating, which was very exciting. He spent time going over my program and congratulated me for what I had done. It was a huge moment for me. We chatted a few more times over the years, and I bragged to people that Dennis was a friend who had given my program a thumbs-up.
The first trip was a success, and we all began to plan for the big things that needed to happen. By the time September rolled around I was getting ready to go back to Michigan a second time. This time around it was to sign legal papers stating that my ownership of The Center for Phlebotomy Education would take place October 1st and transfer all the inventory and equipment to its new headquarters in Utah. It was quite a week, my spouse traveled with me this time, and along with working on moving preparations, we were able to visit some great tourist locations and have a wonderful time with the Ernsts.
One warm fall evening, sitting on the deck and looking out at the beautiful water, Dennis asked me how I was able to be so confident about the transition to my new role. I was surprised at his question. First, I was very glad that I was apparently coming across as calm and confident (thank goodness). Second, I knew that while I was not the most experienced phlebotomist with only thirteen years behind me (compared to some with 20 or 30 plus years), I was still very passionate about it. I had the "fire in my belly," as Dennis often describes it. And third, I was an excellent teacher. I knew that my skills and experience, combined with the Ernsts supporting and mentoring me, would provide the best possible chance to continue their mission and legacy.
When I found out that I was an actual candidate to take over the company, I couldn't believe it. To even be considered for the role of Director was incredibly humbling and a huge honor. Throughout the process, I expected at any moment to find out that someone else had been chosen instead of me - yet, here I am, writing from my new office space with a company sign reading "Center for Phlebotomy Education" on the door. I am incredibly thrilled with my new position, and I have many plans for new and exciting projects in the future; however, I am most grateful to be in a place to better serve phlebotomists and instructors in any way I can. 2022 is going to be an amazing year, and I look forward to serving you as the Director of the Center for Phlebotomy Education.
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What a perfect fit!
Your blog shows why you're such a great fit to carry on the Ernst's great work. Dennis always communicates so clearly and from the heart. Congratulations and good work!
Amy Baxter MD, 01/03/2022 11:05:10
Liaison with UK NAP
Congratulations on taking over from our dear friends a very successful company Hope we can continue this friendship
Catherine Williams, 01/03/2022 11:06:12
Diversified Medical Occupations Coordinator, Vanguard-Sentinel Career & Technology Centers
Becky Hartzell, 01/03/2022 11:22:54
[email protected] do you offer continuing Ed credits or hours for up keeping certification. I’m currently retired but would like to keep up you never know these days , May have to go back to work! I also taught loved it!
Yolanda White , 01/03/2022 12:27:51
Wow! What a story! I am excited for you and looking forward to seeing what transpires for the Center!
Amy Castellano, 01/03/2022 14:18:50
Congratulations on your new journey. I look forward to your newsletters and your knowledge that's been past down to you from the Ernst's. Love their teaching and education with phlebotomy. So welcome
Tamera Cooley, 01/03/2022 15:23:21
Department Chair of Phlebotomy
Congratulations on your new position. I, like you, started out in healthcare facilities as a Medical Assistant and found that Phlebotomy was my passion. I had the opportunity to begin teaching Phlebotomy classes, part-time, at the college where I graduated with my Medical Assisting degree. Once there, I realized that teaching students Phlebotomy knowledge and procedures was even more my passion. I was hired full-time in 2011 and have since moved up to be over the department and have grown the program to now be taught to our local high school students through our Career and College Promise program. I absolutely love my job and my students!
I hope that this job meets all your expectations and look forward to learning about the projects that you have in mind!
Amanda Beaman, 01/03/2022 16:09:05
I look forward to following along in 2022. I'm a phlebotomy instructor and I can't brag enough about all the wonderful tools you provide! Thanks again!
Cynthia Lamacchia, 01/03/2022 16:26:38
Welcome and Congratulations!!
Looks like you will fit right in. All my best..
Medical Assistant and Phlebotomy Instructor here in California!
Patricia Bradshaw, 01/03/2022 17:23:43
I am blown away by all of the wonderful comments. Thank you everyone for all of your kind words! I truly appreciate it.
Shanise Keith, 01/03/2022 21:08:42
Congratulations! I look forward to seeing the newsletter each month. I am excited to see what you have in store for us.
Stacey D Belt, 01/04/2022 02:04:44
Phlebotomists Association of Ireland
Congratulations and best wishes for 2022.
Maureen Keane, 01/04/2022 02:41:42
Great things to come!
From reading your Blog, sounds like you were a shoe in for the job. I met Dennis several years ago in Corydon, IN at the first Phlebotomy Boot Camp. He and Catherine are amazing people. You have large shoes to fill, but there is no doubt they will be filled. Good luck and God Bless.
Bruce Brown, 01/04/2022 12:15:52
Congrats Shan!! This is so exciting! Sad to lose you in the Tech College system, but look forward to working with you for additional training and amazing information.
Mindi Short, 01/05/2022 00:50:10
Congratulations, it truly sounds like you have the passion that is needed and am happy Dennis found a competent successor!
Sharon R. Johnson, 01/05/2022 11:54:37
On behalf of Greiner Bio-One, we wish you all the best in your role as the new Director and owner of the Center for Phlebotomy Education. An exciting new chapter has been opened! I look forward to working together on our shared goal of Improving Best Practices in PreAnalytics.
Kevin McGlinchey, 01/05/2022 16:22:39
Instructor ASI Career Institute
I have been teaching medical assistant students for 13 years and have used this site many times over the years. Congratulations on your new job and keep up the good work!
Ann Peel, 01/06/2022 09:14:33
Laboratory Support Coordinator
Congratulations. Looking forward to your future letters.
Peggy Wilbanks, 01/10/2022 15:47:12
Mobile phlebotomy supervisor
Congratulations! Looking forward for all the good news and learning lessons.
SUZETTE SMITH, 01/25/2022 09:58:21