To The Rescue! – Healthcare IT “Pararescue Jumpers”

Pararescuemen are United States Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Combat Command operatives tasked with recovery and medical treatment of personnel in humanitarian and combat environments. They are the only members of the DoD specifically organized, trained and equipped to conduct personnel recovery operations in hostile or denied areas as a primary mission. Also known as “PJs” (Pararescue Jumpers) and are special operations units.  Many, many times Healthcare Information Technology professionals such as myself (a vendor Certified Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Consultant), are tasked to hit the ground running into “combat zone” types of Healthcare facility working environments! Let me explain – most interviews for experienced and EMR Vendor certified consultants are conducted by scheduled telephone conversations set-up by the recruiters who have made the initial contacts with the client and the job assignment candidate. For additional insight, read about my experience with this process from my previous blogs – “Healthcare IT Job Search…” and  The Healthcare IT “Dating Game”.

So you did a great job on the telephone interview, the client feels you have the skills and capabilities they are seeking. Many times you are “drafted” into an EMR Implementation mid-way or even closer to “go-live” (the actual day the EMR clinical system will be used by the clinicians and their staff for the first time in a clinic or hospital). So there you go into a situation sight unseen – I’m a Christian and we call this “stepping out on faith.”  You are “dropped”  in out of the sky, at the client site and expected to immediately execute tasks that you are specifically certified and trained for regarding your EMR skills and capabilities.  The client’s expectations are very high, based on your previous EMR assignments experience and your ability to adapt quickly to their EMR project implementation. Expect to be placed on this client’s “front line” with little time for anyone to hold your hand for guidance…this client is seeking you to help guide them! Most EMR clinical application vendors like Epic Systems, Inc. have a specific implementation methodology and with your experience of completing implementations with this vendor’s other clients – ready-set-go!

Following are some “battle zone” tips and reminders:

  • Keep your eyes “on the prize” and your finger on the “trigger” – aim for the tasks you are engaged to complete . You don’t know where the land mines are, so don’t get caught up in office politics. You don’t know where the bodies are buried regarding who was there before you, who decided what, and what that outcome was, so stay away from a lot of name dropping and “he said / she said” malarkey.
  • Be knowledgeable – but not an arrogant “Mr. or Ms. Know it all” – always share and exchange what you know as opposed to treating the smart but in-experienced full-time staff like idiots – these hard-working folks may be new to this particular EMR Clinical Application, but most of them are high-level clinical professionals who know all about the working environment you just arrived at!
  • Be sure to work well with the project team “rank and file” – you probably already made a good impression with the project management/leadership staff during the interview process. Trust me – it’s your peers on the project team you will work with on an hour by hour, day by day basis who will determine your effectiveness and success of a project engagement. Otherwise, plan to wear a bullet proof vest and watch out for “friendly fire”!
  • Always remember your “Special Operations” status – no matter how nice the full-time staff and management is – your mission is going to end sooner or later. You are not at liberty to share all of your professional information status (DO NOT DISCUSS your hourly rate nor your contract engagement terms, DO NOT gossip about other clients and/or the EMR vendor staff, etc.)
  • Leave recruiting to the recruiters – you don’t want to “bite the hand that feeds you” by enticing the client’s full-time staff into your professional ranks. This may weaken their on-going operations once you leave.  Many EMR Implementation project clients have invested time and money with their current full-time staff – you don’t want to be the one known for influencing someone to leave.  Each person must decide if they seek to pursue the Healthcare consulting world by their own initiative.

The Healthcare IT Consultants who travel from client site to client site around the country are sometimes called “Road Warriors” and at times, being tasked for duties as I have described in this blog as “Pararescue Jumpers” for Healthcare IT Jobs. Your EMR Vendor certification (and years of EMR implementation experience with various healthcare clients) have equipped you to be specifically organized, and trained for successful EMR Implementation projects and you are pretty well paid for these efforts. But keep in mind – it may not be an endeavor for everyone! You can learn to thrive and have a very challenging and rewarding experience, but be ready to dodge some “bullets” and acquire a few “battle scars.”

All-in-all I have found this professional experience so worthwhile as I contemplate how (…but through the grace of God), I have played a small part (…it takes an entire Healthcare IT “Village”) in this ever advancing, evolution of patient care from paper medical charts to computerized medical records – nationwide. Yes, this is important “stuff” – patient safety issues, security and privacy laws, state and federal policy and regulations, “meaningful use”, financial reimbursements, and cutting-edge technology!

About the author


Shirley Corsey

Shirley Corsey is a certified Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Consultant/Road Warrior, and owner of her own online training center for the Healthcare Information Technology industry. She is a seasoned Healthcare IT professional with over 25 years experience, with a recent career focus for the past 9 years in the EMR job market.