How do I best translate an existing skill set into a better career in the EHR industry?


I am a healthcare professional with 20+ years’ experience, including Practice Management of small and medium sized practices, EHR and Practice Management software training and implementation experience for the past 10 years, as well as IT and technical support skills.

I find myself without an identity in healthcare right now because my company fell victim to when Allscripts MyWay was discontinued and my career then became perilously ambiguous and hangs in the balance. 2013 has been a struggle to find where I am best suited. Practices have changed so drastically that managing one is a difficult task for anyone these days, and EHR consulting companies in the DC area are few and far between. Working for a reseller that only caters to the small practice environment is a losing battle, and trying to get into an EHR company is difficult because none of them are in or near the DC area and my qualifications for remote specialists just miss the mark somehow. The larger hospital conglomerates in the DC Metropolitan area are also impossible to break through, and I have direct connection to the top management teams in all of them.

I would hate to think that the last 10 years of working so hard to learn the EHR industry and assist all those clients with conversions, implementations, billing revenue cycle management and workflow designs were for naught. Perhaps you might have a few ideas for me of companies that might be interested in someone like me? A hard working employee who does what it takes to complete a project and never quits until there is success? I have a full understanding of a medical practice in every sense of its operation. How do I translate that into a better career for myself in the EHR industry?

Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated.

Answer from Pete Shelkin

While it can be frustrating to have your job fall victim to industry and market changes, it sounds like you have a great deal of knowledge and experience to build on. Regardless of the tools they use, all healthcare providers operate in much the same manner and knowing the business is essential.

My suggestion is to broaden the scope of your search by contacting some of the consulting firms in addition to the EHR vendors and your local providers. Many consulting firms provide resources to providers who are undertaking EHR or other Health IT (HIT) projects. With Meaningful Use and ICD-10 deadlines continuing to approach there will be many opportunities to get involved with project work. While temporary by nature, project-related positions provide an opportunity to gain valuable experience that can translate into opportunities for more permanent positions should that be what you desire. On the other hand, some people find that they enjoy project work more than “regular” positions and decide to make a career of it.

Project work is just one option and you may want to explore others with the help of a career counselor or a trusted colleague. And while you have certainly heard it before, the value of networking cannot be overstated so I don’t feel bad saying it again. The HIMSS annual conference and chapter functions provide a great opportunity for networking, and you can also look into opportunities through other professional organizations that have chapters in your area.

As you continue exploring your options, remember to stay positive and focus on your industry knowledge. Attitude and an understanding of how a practice functions will always outweigh knowledge of a specific product.

Good luck!

Pete Shelkin, MSHA, CISSP, PMP, FHIMSS, President, The Osuna Group, LLC., and Vice Chair Elect, HIMSS Board of Directors

Health IT, Career, EHR