Why Is It So Hard to Become a Certified Epic consultant?

The following is a guest blog post by Nate DiNiro.

I often hear that when it comes to becoming Epic certified, for the most part getting the golden ticket boils down to a matter of luck. Being at the right hospital at the right time can do wonders for a career in heath IT, but some sitting on the sidelines continue to wonder why it’s so hard to break in when there’s so much demand. In the midst of a huge project to “light-up” broad swaths of our national inpatient healthcare system, why would anyone dominating an industry make it almost impossible to gain the skills necessary to manage their system without being employed by one of their customers?

It’s recognized that proprietary elements and event whole systems are used to gain a competitive advantage in many software systems. However, when the deal is won and it’s time to move on the the next project, shouldn’t it be incumbent upon a vendor to do their best to make their project successful in the least amount of time, and in the most cost effective way? Why would any vendor inhibit access to training on their system?

In the final analysis, will it be vendors that exert total control over product, product knowledge and even going so far as to controlling the customer, which creates a tipping point for a shift from proprietary systems to more open source healthcare IT?

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  • Good post. Getting EPIC certification is like getting the golden ticket. With so many hospital systems implementing it, you’d think they would embrace people who are willing to become certified. I just spoke to a hospital system who is implementing EPIC, but unwilling to pay for the certification classes. Currently, there is a pretty huge wall there.

    In addition, many people do have advanced degrees such as in medical informatics. How can the market meet the demands for staffing, if those degrees are not honored? If you’ve read job descriptions in the past 2-3 years, they all say that you MUST have been through a complete implementation cycle to get hired. If you’ve earned your degrees and gone through the ONC Workforce Development role classes, at what point can you gain the experience? The Catch 22 here is preventing many smart people from entering a workforce where their skills are sorely needed. Not to mention reducing the unemployment rate.

    Lastly, physicians and hospitals seem to believe that only nurses can fulfill these roles. Nurses are great and hospitals would not run without them. But, there are many other capable people that have been trained and can implement EHRs.

  • Joan,
    I worked recently as a *CONTRACTOR* for a major hospital in california that is implementing EPIC on both ambulatory and inpatient. I asked the hospital about getting EPIC certified AT MY OWN COST. They refused saying that, and I quote, “their contractual agreements with EPIC do not include *Contractors*”. They can only send their FTE’s for training.
    Contractors and EPIC certification are kind of like vinegar and oil. Not a good mix.

  • Hello all,
    My name is Sonya Carolan and I am a Healthcare IT Recruiter. I have a number of opportunities for people with EPIC experience to gain certification through a large hospital in Northern California. If you are interested, please look me up on LinkedIn and I would be more than happy to give you the details.

  • Joan,

    You hit the nail on the head. Wouldn’t you think that a company would WANT their people to be certified as a measure of knowing that their implementation is being conducted by professionally trained Epic certified individuals, resulting in an overall successful implementation? Too much is at stake – in the end, will their systems work correctly with patient healthcare, information and regulations?

  • Curiously – although Epic does handcuff hospitals in terms of certifying consultants, this can be circumvented with a legal “agent” agreement. It is a long shot – but if you can create a deep relationship with your hospital client or a practice within the network; there is some opportunity to sidstep the Epic Iron Curtain. A few of my staff have become certified as a result. I have written a brief article on proprietary vendor training which might be of help @ http://www.emrapproved.com/hitsmart.php

  • These are all very valid comments. But, to clarify, the hospital system I spoke with is a large hospital system. They were unwilling to send their full time employees to get EPIC certification prior to implementation. Some employees were going at their own expense!

    Good to know about the “agent” agreement, Wendy.

    For those who haven’t seen this, here is a story of a CIO who attended an Epic User Group meeting in Madison. Pretty hilarious.

  • In reading this article and the comments, I feel very fortunate to have only been in the IT world for a year and a half, to have my company pay for all my expenses for training, to have no exposure to the Epic software, not even credentialing, and I have completed AND passed my courses in a four month timeframe. Looks like I had that perfect timing to get out of being a staff nurse and getting such valuable training- I got the golden ticket and feel lucky indeed!

  • Joan,

    I can understand your frustration. Put yourself in the shoes of your employer. Maybe they didn’t feel that the expense of getting their employees certified would provide adequate return on investement. Your offer to pay for the certification yourself sends th signal to them that you plan to look for work elsewhere in the future. It’s expensive to find, recruit, and hire replacements. I worked for a large health system that has both hospital and ambulatory EPIC EMR that frequently hired people that had IT but not Health IT experience. They have spent a consider amount of money sending people to EPIC for training and got them certified (mostly in non-clinical modules like Prelude, Resolute billing, and Cadence). Many people leave after only 1-2 years to work for a consulting firm for double their salary and without on-call duties. I’m not condoning what your employer is doing by not allowing you to pay for your own certification, but I can see their potential reasoning behind it. Just my thoughts.

  • One institution told me that they would hire IT professionals to train in EPIC, but that EPIC would not allow them to work on any of its systems until they achieved certification. And that certification had to be redone every single year. Clearly the institution has to be careful about who it hires and sends off to the middle of nowhere to get the training. It wants its new employees to be successful but does not want them to get certified and then start job hunting.

  • I recently completed a HITECH Workforce program to become certified as a HITPro, and will take the certification exam in the next month or so. I have seen many EPIC jobs, but most require 2-3 years of strong build and implementation background. I am observing at several hospitals and clinics on my own initiative to gain some exposure to EHRs but it’s slow going. I don’t regret undergoing the program, but I do hope to see some results in the form of job offers, etc. even if I have to arrange/pay for my certification training

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