Bridging the EMR Job Qualification Gap

Posted on September 7, 2011 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

I came across an article the other day about “10 of Today’s Hottest Jobs” and was not surprised to learn that five of the cited 10 had something to do with healthcare or IT. We’ve all been told time and again that healthcare reform and its incentivized plans for IT implementations will lead to a greater demand for healthcare information management and IT positions, including the much-coveted EMR implementation specialist. But as we’ve all realized, just because industry demand for these types of positions has risen, that doesn’t mean they are being filled quickly – or at all. The same article alludes to what is happening in the healthcare IT job space right now:Believe it or not, even with the unemployment rate stubbornly high and many industries reluctant to staff up, there are employers out there who still can’t find enough qualified applicants.”

And there’s the rub. Many healthcare vendors and consulting firms, particularly those involved in healthcare IT implementations, are looking for “qualified applicants,” and completely overlooking the enormous pool of talent that newly graduated job seekers have to offer. This certainly isn’t a new observation, but as America – whose citizens are experiencing unemployment at record levels – sits down tomorrow night to watch President Obama address the nation’s employment situation in front of Congress, it certainly is a timely one.

Let’s take a look at two videos that highlight the employment disconnect between higher education in healthcare IT, and the types of firms that would seem to be hiring new graduates.

In the first, Kelly Patterson from Hinds Community College in Raymond, Mississippi, chats with a local news station about the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) Community College Consortia Program, which trains individuals in healthcare IT workforce roles, including EMR implementation.

In the second, employees at Cerner Corp. chat about how happy they are to work at the company, and list many benefits of being a Cerner employee. Most are young – many could be recent college graduates – and seem enthusiastic about their careers.

So if national training programs abound, and vendors seem eager to hire fresh talent, where is the disconnect? Why do statements like the one below seem like a dime a dozen these days?

“Training and certification do not seem to be enough. As in all new fields, experience comes from experience.” – Nachum Greenspan via LinkedIn

EJ Fechenda at HIMSS JobMine gave her two cents on how to bridge this employment gap in a recent blog: “With federal deadlines looming, healthcare organizations need to get moving and there are a lot of job seekers out there ready for the challenge. Are there organizations or companies willing to extend opportunities to these candidates? Is there a training or job-shadowing program that can be used as a best practice for other organizations to implement? Who are the champions already doing this or willing to lead the charge?”

I’d love to hear from any recent healthcare IT graduates who have been hired recently and have an employer willing to help train and mentor them. It takes champions, of course, but every champion needs someone to fight for.