Vaccine. A word that we’ve all heard time and time again throughout the pandemic. For Dr. Casey Villhauer, vaccines were a part of her life as a patient, pharmacist, and mother even before Vaxi Taxi was brought into existence. Vaxi Taxi came to life through recognizing a need that Dr. Villhauer’s own family had. Her daughter was incredibly needle phobic. When flu shot season came around, she would start asking when it was time get her shot. Her needle phobia was causing her an extensive amount of stress and anxiety. Dr. Villhauer recognized that anxiety and she wanted to see if vaccinating her daughter at home would help. Being vaccinated by someone that her daughter trusted and being in her own home were the approaches that her daughter needed to overcome her needle phobia. Dr. Villhauer shared what she did for her daughter at a mom’s group, and she quickly recognized through the voices of other parents that her family would not be the only ones to benefit from a service that brought vaccination appointments to patients’ front doors. Through recognizing that need, Vaxi Taxi came to life. Vaxi Taxi works to bring vaccinations (of all types) to busy families, high risk individuals, and those who are needle phobic.
It was clear while talking to Dr. Villhauer that she is incredibly entrepreneurial. When asked what preparatory steps she took to become the innovator and pharmacist she is today, she emphasized building skills that she’s always had. Dr. Villhauer recognized that being a problem solver has always been a strength of hers. She specifically utilized this skill while working at a busy retail pharmacy where she was always looking for ways to assess what was available and then see how she could use those resources to create solutions. Dr. Villhauer also encourages students who are interested in entrepreneurship to network. She found that meeting with other healthcare startups was a confidence builder and that she left every meeting taking away something new. The field of pharmacy is so vast, and there are many opportunities for pharmacists to step into innovator roles to make a difference in healthcare. Dr. Villhauer reminds us to build on the skills that we already have, network, learn, and grow in new areas.
Dr. Villhauer put in countless hours to bring her vision to life, and Vaxi Taxi now works within Polk and the surrounding counties to provide vaccinations anywhere that is convenient for patients. This doesn’t mean that Dr. Villhauer and the Vaxi Taxi team haven’t faced any challenges as Vaxi Taxi came to life and as it continues to grow. During the interview with Dr. Villhauer, she discussed that one of the greatest challenges was getting patients to see the value of Vaxi Taxi. The question was always “well, why hasn’t this been done before?” On the flip side, she also mentioned payers, government agencies, or IT developers never told her that that Vaxi Taxi services weren’t needed. She felt like her biggest obstacles were believing in herself. Looking back, if she could tell herself anything, it would have been just do it!
Dr. Villhauer saw a need within our healthcare system and brought it to life through strengthening the skills she already possessed and not being afraid to put in the work to develop the skills that she didn’t have. She reminds us that there are so many opportunities for pharmacists to be innovators within their practice and to bring change to patient care. The first step is identifying a need and believing that it can be brought to life.
To be directed to Vaxi Taxi's website, please follow this link.