A Fine Whine

A Fine Whine

My name is Danielle Byron.   I am a Health IT project leader who is passionate about using technology to improve patient safety and outcomes.   This week so I’m musing about Wine and watching perhaps a bit too much Olympics.     Not expensive French wine that my daughter Margaux is named after, rather the whine “my skills are transferable”   I often hear from my fellow IT Professionals.

If you are an RN, MS, MBA with ten years of direct patient care coupled with a five-year EPIC rollout experience you probably aren’t reading  this blog because you are too busy interviewing and taking calls from your BFF Headhunter.     For the rest of us who may be missing a piece of the equation – let’s pour a glass of Merlot (I recommend an inexpensive Chilean – we are between paying jobs – but hopefully haven’t succumbed to wine by the box) and look at some ideas to curtail the whine.

Yes, you and I know that an IT networking professional means that if you are building and running a network at a Fortune 100 or at a local community hospital you are putting together routers, switches and firewalls.    As an application development specialist you are skilled, seasoned (God forbid we mention we have decades of experience) at ferreting out the real business requirements, and creating world class applications that run mission critical functions ranging from financial trading functions to delivering the Olympics updates quicker than the .09 second difference between skiers Swiss Didier Defago’s gold medal and American Bode Miller’s bronze.   As a Project Manager,  you have brought together global teams operating in Boston, Bombay and Brazil.   Leading multi-million efforts where the projects were delivered on time, on budget, and at a high level of quality (well at least those we boast about on our résumés).

So why can’t I get Health IT hiring managers to talk to me?   My skills are transferable! The whines echo across the speed networking tables, during the HIMSS cocktail hours and throughout the HIT blogosphere.   I don’t claim to have many answers, but let’s look at the three dimensions of this complex environment we find ourselves in for the 2010 vintage.

People hire people like themselves.

I have talked to 30 – year General Motors alumni who shared with me that staff never migrated from GM to Ford and back again.   We wonder why the auto industry is in shambles!    A nursing informatics director with a RN credential is going hire other RN nursing informatics specialists – she may have never worked with an “outsider.”

Strategies – Use Linkedin to review backgrounds of recent hires at your target companies.    Get informational networking interviews and ask questions and listen to the stories.      If you get the sense the organization is closed to outsiders, replace it with another target.  For larger organizations – perhaps one department (e.g. Clinical Research) may be more open than the acute inpatient support team.  Smaller community – based health care organizations may also be more open to an out – of – the – box individual who can bring a fresh set of eyes and perspective to the challenges.

Continue to believe that the successful forward – looking learning organizations will come out of this economic downturn by looking to bring in some new blood.   Watch the Health IT press for quotes from such leaders and add their organizations to your target list.

Where is my Specialist?

Another factor that makes the Healthcare IT industry seem harder to break into than the Academy Award Envelopes is the inherent specialization found in healthcare.

My podiatrist is a lovely person and has helped my Plantar fasciitis clear up — however if I were to have another baby I don’t think I want her in the delivery room .

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) recognizes more than 145 specialties and subspecialties.    Nursing has more than 80.   Then there are the respiratory therapists, the rehabilitation specialists, the radiologists,  etc etc etc.

Strategies – I still feel uncomfortable putting “PMP” after my name when I contrast it with the years and investment that went into putting “MD” after someone’s name.    However, certifications help – get as many as you can while you are in transition.   Substitute “specialization” for “transferable” when you talk about your skill set.

YOU the patient

Unless you have regenerative DNA (like  Claire Bennet from Heros)  we all do have healthcare experience – as patients and  care givers.     Patient centered care is the heart of the healthcare industry.   Great  healthcare professionals are passionate about their patients – whether they are working in one – on – one direct care or behind the scenes helping to enable technologies that improve patient care.

Strategies: Consider using your personal experiences to give heart and passion to your selling points of how you can work in Healthcare IT.  Be sure you are able to talk about your passion for entering Health IT –  it needs to be more than this looks like an economically viable growth industry – this is not going to open the club doors.

Go for the Gold

Cheers!Is your glass of wine finished?  If not, go watch a little of the Olympics and get inspired from the athlete’s stories of how they have overcome obstacles to get to Vancouver.   A definite lack of whining is found in all of the stories.

So help to eliminate the phrase “My skills are transferable.”   Work on developing creative strategies to overcome the barriers to back up what you can do for Health IT!

What strategies are you using overcome these barriers?  Any suggestions for an  inexpensive red wine?

About the author


Danielle Byron


  • Hi Danielle – I really enjoyed your post! And since I was multi-tasking, I also consumed 2 glasses of one of my favorite value reds from http://www.chateaupotelle.com I got mine at the winery so it was much cheaper than you can get online. I strongly recommend any of the VGS (very good sh!!) line.
    Best of luck! Joe

  • Joe – Thanks for the comment. Are there many Health IT Jobs in Napa? Probably not since they drink their heart healthy red wine. – Danielle

  • Danielle,
    I really enjoyed your post! It provided some interesting insight into strategies for breaking into the healthcare market! I love your use of puns and the analogy to wines ~ you may have a career in writing at some point in the future!

  • Hi Kellie – Thanks so much for taking the time to read, it would be fun if writing could pay the bills. Good Luck on your continued healthcare IT roles. Danielle

  • Danielle,

    I always enjoy reading your column. As a recruiter and talking to Healthcare organizations that are looking for IT folks (whether programmer or management), it seems to be they always want experience in a healthcare organization and won’t move from that position.
    Before my recruiting days, I also managed Programmers and a Data Center. I too initially wanted to hire experience from my Industry, but somewhere along the way, I figured out that I was missing out on some great Programming talent. I leaned that it’s easier to teach my industry than to teach them programming. And along with outside Industry experience came enlightment about new and better ways to approach problems.
    Very insightful article.

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