I spent the weekend with one of my healthcare IT mentors. He’s been around the industry for several decades and I’ve been the fortunate recipient of some of his knowledge as he’s shared it with me over the years. He taught me much of what I know about building relationships with clients and constituents, along with how to cut through the noise that some in the industry constantly generate.
Over time I’ve been his customer, later his co-worker, and even did a brief stint as CMIO at an organization he led. Most of all, I’m grateful for his friendship as I’ve moved through this wild and crazy industry. He’s helped me weigh the pros and cons of various opportunities and reminded me to be true to myself, because the industry and the people in it can change with not even a moment’s notice.
Following the whirlwind of HIMSS, it was good to be able to sit by the pool and do nothing. When the most major item on your agenda is determining which movie you’re going to watch after dinner, life is good. (Note to readers: “A Quiet Place” is not so quiet of a film.)
It was nice to have a glimpse of retired life, although I can tell he misses the industry at least a little bit. He spent the majority of his career on the vendor side. We played the “who did you see at HIMSS” game and it was a trip down memory lane talking about everyone we’ve known or worked with over the last 15 or so years. Very few of our mutual friends are in the same places in the industry, with many having made the rounds among multiple EHR vendors over time. Certain executives seem to bring their entourages with them as they move, which leads to an exodus when they ultimately leave. It seems like some people just follow each other around the industry.
The people we’ve worked with have ranged far and wide, landing full-time gigs at academic medical centers, health systems, and with cross-industry vendors such as Salesforce or AWS. Some work in lobbying or the healthcare policy arena. Others have left the healthcare IT world altogether – one raises pygmy goats and another owns a hot yoga studio.
It’s always fun to hear about their exploits and to wonder where various people landed in later phases of their careers while pondering one’s own future. I’ve been a bit restless the last several months. Running your own business is challenging and making sure that the people who work on your behalf are meeting client expectations can be exhausting even with a small group of people.
I’ve explored a couple of opportunities to return to life with a Big Health System, along with one to move into the vendor space. None of them were particularly conducive to staying in practice, which ultimately led me to cross them off the list. I’ve had a couple of periods during my career where I didn’t see patients and I did miss patient car,e although I didn’t miss dealing with insurance companies or landlords.
In reviewing my recent foray into job hunting, I was frankly surprised by the inability of the provider organizations to come up with a clinical situation that would work. Often the emergency department or urgent care work has been contracted out to a staffing company that is reluctant to take on a part time physician.
One offered to add me part time to an existing internal medicine group. Trying to work as a primary care physician but only be in the office half a day a week is very challenging. I did it when I first moved into the CMIO trenches and there was much patient dissatisfaction with the arrangement, as patients were used to having advanced access scheduling with me as their physician. Not to mention that my partner constantly grumbled about having to cover for me even though he was being compensated for the extra work.
I can’t imagine trying to be a new physician to a practice but only be in the office half a day a week unless you were just seeing acute or overflow visits, and none of the organizations I talked to were offering that kind of arrangement. I don’t think that seeing patients is essential to being a good clinical informaticist or physician leader, but I do enjoy it and think it provides valuable context for being able to serve the organization.
The vendor role was reluctant to let me stay in practice at all, for fear that I wouldn’t devote my full efforts to the job. I think that was short sighted and they shouldn’t care what I do on my weekends. It turns out they have a “no moonlighting” policy for all employees, which was a bit of a red flag anyway. I don’t think employers should try to dictate what people do in their off hours unless it reflects badly on the company or interferes with the employee’s ability to complete their responsibilities successfully. It seems like many people have a “side hustle” these days, probably due to the uncertain aspects of the healthcare IT economy.
I’ve been looking into some telemedicine opportunities because they seem to be flexible and might be a bit more easily worked around a full-time informatics role. However, it’s not anything I have ever done, so it’s hard to gauge whether it would be a good fit. My friends who have done telehealth either really liked it or didn’t. I’m used to being adaptable, so we’ll have to see how things unfold.
I’ve got a major volunteer commitment this summer that I need to schedule around, so I don’t want to upset the proverbial apple cart too much unless an amazing opportunity comes along. A wise man once advised me to always keep my mind open to new opportunities and his advice has been spot on so far. Until the universe drops something spectacular in my lap, however, I’m perfectly content to sit by the pool, contemplate a nice glass of wine, and be grateful for the life I’m living.
If you could re-engineer your career, what would you do differently? Leave a comment or email me.
Email Dr. Jayne.