Electronic medical records make patient care simpler and more efficient, as you've discovered while working with the technology as a clinician. You're a believer in the value of the technical side of health care and you're considering a move from the clinical side to a career in health IT, but you're not quite sure what you need to make that switch.
Depending on your facility's needs, you may already be basically working as a health IT professional. Whether you oversaw the implementation of a new EMR system, or guided your office through an upgrade, it may be less about changing jobs and more about changing job titles. You may be able to make that switch at your facility, or you may want to consider applying to new positions.
Either way, here are some things to keep in mind when making the change from tech-savvy clinician to health IT worker.
Career Options in Health IT
There are many options along the health IT (or HIT) worker career path, from entry-level program analysts and developers up to Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer, which can be lucrative positions. Here are a sampling of some of the titles you can expect to find when browsing job postings.
- Clinical Analyst
- Application Coordinator
- Instructional Designer
- EHR Trainer
- Nurse Informaticist
- Project Manager
In all of these potential careers, you'll be expected to be a technical point-of-contact for clinical staff, so your pre-existing experience on the clinical side of the house can be extremely valuable here. These positions work in small practices, large offices, and in hospitals, and as you move up the career ladder, you can anticipate that you will assume responsibility over workflow, training of end users, clinical data and system configuration.
Skills and Experience
- It will be critical to note your experience working with the electronic medical records at your facility, because you will almost certainly be working with these records in a HIT setting.
- Any self-taught or university-taught coding skills will be valuable, given that coding and troubleshooting code will be an important piece of your new role.
- If you've mastered Excel or similar tools like Numbers or Google Sheets, you'll be in a good position, because many offices use Excel to track patient visits and calculate practitioner workloads.
- Involvement in hospital or practice-wide iniatives is an added bonus, because as a member of the HIT staff, you will be supporting an entire organization, not just interacting one-on-one with patients.
- Clear written and verbal communication skills. This is a must for most positions both inside and outside health care, but it's especially critical because you will be communicating with health care professionals, patients, and administration who may lack your technical savvy and will need concise, easy-to-digest documents from you.
Certifications to Consider
- Vendor-specific technology certifications. If you know which technology you'll be working with in your new position, and you can become certified in its use, you'll have a major leg up on your competition for the job.
- Becoming a Certified Associate in Healthcare Information & Management Systems (CAHiM) or Certified Professional in Healthcare Information & Management Systems (CPHiM) gives you a strong foundation in HIT systems, with CPHiM demonstrating a higher level of competence.
- The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification isn't directly related to IT, but the highly-regarded certification does demonstrate that you can handle the project management aspects of your new job, of which there will likely be many.
- Maintain your clinical certifications, as those are valuable for health IT workers who want a leg up on peers without existing experience in health care. These certifications also ensure you have a fallback if the career change does not work out.
This is one of the fastest growing fields in health care, so it's important to be prepared and know what you'll need to stand out from a competitive list of fellow candidates for the position of your dreams. If you're ready to make a change and pursue a career as a health IT worker, explore our job resources or reach out to one of our recruiters!