Professional Development

A Recipe for Success: Three Key Ingredients to Advance Your IT Career

Two healthcare professionals looking at a laptop

One of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced as a healthcare IT leader has been guiding talented individuals as they grow and develop in their careers. I followed that passion by transitioning to leadership coaching with a focus on supporting healthcare IT leaders.

Over the years, the role of IT in healthcare has changed dramatically, requiring new skills for success. This is driven by higher expectations of IT from colleagues and stakeholders. The recipe for success in advancing your healthcare IT career contains three key ingredients: understanding the business, understanding technology and, perhaps most importantly, understanding yourself.

Understanding the Business

A successful healthcare IT person needs to be thought of as a member of the healthcare team, not the IT person. At every level, from an analyst on a project team to the CIO, you must be intimately familiar with the healthcare industry, the environment, the organization’s mission, strategy, structure, service delivery, strengths, and challenges. It’s important to demonstrate a deep understanding of the business, including both the care provider and the patient experience, in order to be seen as a trusted advisor who can recommend technical solutions.

You may have heard the saying that relationships drive results. Building relationships with colleagues inside and outside of IT enhances the potential for successful, sustainable results. When your colleagues know that you understand their roles and responsibilities and when they understand yours, the partnerships often lead colleagues to support your career opportunities and aspirations.

Including this key ingredient of understanding the business in your recipe will not only prove to be beneficial for career advancement, but it will also enhance your satisfaction with your current position. You could have chosen to be involved in information technology in any industry. You chose healthcare for a reason. Remember that reason and become an expert about the healthcare industry and your organization.

Understanding Technology

Understanding technology is obviously a key ingredient to advancement in the healthcare IT field! You have to keep current on technology. How does one do that? There are many ways.

As a healthcare IT executive, I recognized that the individuals who sought knowledge were the ones who really took charge of their own careers and were poised to advance. These were usually the individuals who raised their hands to take on new or extra assignments. These individuals were curious, asked questions, and offered ideas. These were the folks who recognized the value of learning transferable skills. They include project management principles and tools, change management best practices, business process management, continuous process improvement, and other structured tools and processes.

Remember, it is not only about understanding how a technology works, it is also about understanding how the technology will work in the context of a business need, and how it will be implemented. This is where the key ingredient of understanding the business and understanding the technology blend together.

Understanding Yourself

Self-awareness is a key ingredient in the recipe for advancement and cannot be overused. It’s like Herbs de Provence in French cooking. It’s a must-have. If you don’t understand yourself, your strengths, your skills, and your values, you are limiting your opportunities for success and satisfaction, not to mention advancement. How you show up matters and knowing how you show up provides you with the information you need to grow and attain your career goals.

Some important things to consider on your journey to understanding yourself:

  • Know your strengths and challenges. Take an assessment to uncover this information.
  • Surround yourself with trusted colleagues and with people whose strengths complement yours.
  • If you are a leader, understand and recognize team strengths and foster team collaboration.
  • Solicit honest feedback from trusted colleagues, leaders, direct reports, family, and friends.
  • Find a mentor, or a coach, or an accountability partner, or all three – each one serves a different purpose and can help you optimize your strengths and create a roadmap to success.
  • Invest in yourself. This includes taking the time to recharge when necessary.

By blending the key ingredients of understanding the business, understanding technology, and understanding yourself, you have created your own unique recipe for career advancement. Bon Appetit!