Nationwide Permanent & Temporary Staffing for Pathology & Histology Labs

Celebrating 10 Years of Success with Nicklas Medical Staffing

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Nicklas Medical Staffing celebrates its 10 year anniversary! To commemorate this milestone, founder and CEO Deborah Hills shares a look back.

Did Nicklas Staffing start small?

Yes! In 2011 I was at the same PA job that I loved for seven years. My employer was bought out and I was no longer certain my position would be there in a year. So I started a job search. 

I took a job on the other side of town. We PA’s love our jobs when we are treated well, but it’s a different story when there is a personality conflict with your supervisor. Almost immediately I was stressed, overworked, trapped in meeting after meeting, and I felt that there was no path to success. And just like that I was let go — and I was thrilled! I called my mom to tell her and celebrate. But when I woke up the next morning the joy wore off as I wondered about my bills and supporting my kids. 

What did you do next?

I started searching for local PA opportunities but there were a bunch of dead ends. I even applied to entry-level positions just to have some income, but I was told I was overqualified. I knew I had to get creative, so I started working travel PA contracts. I loved the flexibility of contract work, but driving from Tampa to Jacksonville as a single mom with school-age kids was tough. So in July 2013, I launched my own LLC, Pathologists’ Assistants Consulting and created a website for the business.

Nicklas Wasn’t Launched as a Medical Staffing Agency?

It wasn’t! Or at least I didn’t think it was at the time. My sole reason for launching Pathologists’ Assistants Consulting was to help increase my odds for finding employment opportunities for myself. I had a friend who helped me with SEO back in 2013, and the website started taking off. Not only did I have medical facilities calling me with their open opportunities, I had a lot of PAs and histotechs reaching out to me to help them find jobs.

When did you officially change the name to Nicklas Medical Staffing — and why Nicklas?

I officially changed the name to Nicklas Medical Staffing in August 2014. Nicklas is my maiden name, which means “people of victory” in German. My father is an only child, and my sister and I are his only children, so I thought my company name would be a good way to allow the name to live on.

Did things get easier when you switched to full time recruiting and staffing?

I wish. For the first few years of Nicklas, I was doing everything that needed to be done for staffing, but I’d also be working some of the contract jobs. And I had never run a staffing agency before, so there was so much I had to learn — and by so much, I mean everything. I didn’t even know how to run accounting software. In the beginning I was working with MSPs, and it was a constant fight to get us paid. There was a point in 2015 where I wasn’t getting paid, I couldn’t get a loan, and I thought I was going to go bankrupt. 

I had one loan officer who, before he rejected my loan request, say, “You have money in your 401K account that you haven’t touched — if you aren’t going to bet on yourself, why would I?” So that’s what I did. I bet on myself, taking out the money I needed from my 401K to pay my contractors. Eventually I did get paid from my clients and I repaid my 401K. I canceled all of those terrible MSP contracts, and essentially found myself at ground zero again. I thought maybe I’d just go back to temp jobs or even just get something permanent in the area. 

The good news is that At that point, despite the setback, Nicklas really had started to build its reputation and a network. I loved being able to help histotechs and pathologists’ assistants build their careers. I knew firsthand what it was like to work in a lab where the culture was toxic or the workers weren’t valued. I wanted to be able to partner with the PAs and histotechs who trusted me with their careers to help make sure that never happened to them. I was determined to see all of my candidates as human beings and professionals. I walked in those shoes, and I know what it’s like to have good jobs and bad jobs in this industry.

Do you think the way you treat your candidates is the reason Nicklas Medical Staffing has been so successful?

I do. I do believe that the relationships both candidates and clients have with Nicklas Medical Staffing definitely play a role in our success. As I mentioned before, I had never done this before, so I was really winging it, especially in the beginning. I remember one year I didn’t have enough money to pay for a booth at the AAPA Convention, so I volunteered to help out at the event and just used it as an opportunity to network while I was there. And beyond networking, even when it came to filling jobs, I didn’t really have a set list of rules or practices — I was really willing to try anything while figuring it out. Once, I had a job in the Midwest that was getting absolutely no applicants, so I reposted the job with a photo of a buffalo on it … and it worked. I suddenly had applications!

What’s been the best part about the last 10 years for you?

Being able to do what I love and help people in the process. I went into medicine to make a difference — and doing what I do at Nicklas means I still get to make a difference.


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