Healthcare CIOs Tell Job Seekers to Keep Skills Sharp

The medical industry seeks thousands of IT workers, but its need for unique skills makes hiring difficult.

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An IT job applicant with a history of constantly beefing up his technology and management skills is more impressive to Timothy Stettheimer than a positive referral or a strong face-to-face interview.

"How do you know you're hiring a good person? You can get a referral. So what? Someone can interview well. So what? But when [an applicant] can say, 'I've hit these [IT education] targets,' that shows a commitment to advancement," said Stettheimer, who is CIO at St. Vincent's Health System in Birmingham, Ala.

Lt. Col. Eric McClung, CIO for the U.S. Army's Pacific Regional Medical Command (PRMC), said the ability to demonstrate continual upgrades in IT and management skills is doubly important for people interested in healthcare-related IT jobs in the military, where leadership changes every two to three years.

The PRMC is one of five Army regional medical commands worldwide that oversee day-to-day operations of treatment facilities in their regions.

The difficulty in finding candidates who keep up with changes in healthcare often prompts McClung to look for general healthcare workers who'd like to move into IT. It's often easier, he said, to teach technical skills to someone with a healthcare background than it is to teach an IT professional about healthcare.

"Just get me an interesting, willing person with a healthcare background, and my organization will overlay the IT knowledge required," said McClung, who's also CIO at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii.

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