What was your first job in healthcare IT?

Question

What was your first job in healthcare IT?  And what experiences and skills did you have at the time to land that position? Any advice looking back as to what you would have done differently as well in that role?

Answer from Bill Spooner

My first healthcare IT job was a collateral assignment during an organizational upheaval in the mid-1980’s.   At the time I was the CFO of one of our health system hospitals.  We were breaking our relationship with a long-time parent company and had less than six months to complete the transition.  I took the leadership role over a facilities management firm we had engaged.  Fortunately this assignment required more project management skills than IT.  In a previous job I had worked on cleaning up a messy accounts receivable conversion and during my tenure as CFO I had overseen the implementation of financial systems as the hospital had changed ownership.  To say that my IT skills and experience at that time were sparse would be an understatement. 

Not long after the transition assignment I moved into IT full-time.  Over the years I grew my skills through formal classes, conferences and job experience, taking a CIO role more than ten years later.  A few years ago I participated on a HIMSS panel in which each panelist described its career ladder.  One of the panelists described her career as a carefully planned progression through a series of increasingly responsible positions.  I described, on the other hand, what I called “dumb luck”.  I had been able to capitalize on opportunities as they emerged. 

Conversation with almost any group of CIOs will reveal wide variation among them as to career ladder.  Successful careers have developed through traditional IT ladders, while others grew through numerous paths, from patient care to finance to consulting.  It is a healthy sign that we can draw our future talent and leadership from such a variety of career fields.