Building The Health IT Workforce Through Mentoring

Bonnie R. Siegel, Partner, Sanford Rose Associates

With the severe health IT workforce shortage, how can you help to develop and encourage new IT talent for our industry? One way to influence and share your experience is through business mentoring.

This is strictly a volunteer effort, so you won’t be getting extra pay or awards. Your payback will be to know that you will have made a positive influence on the future of the health IT community. Are you sincerely interested in someone else’s growth? Can you commit time and energy to this effort? Mentoring is different than career coaching, but both are important. Coaching involves less time and can be a one-time event to help with a well-defined goal.

So are you ready to be a mentor?

Remember your mentors

All of us can think back to teachers, professors, business associates, and even bosses who helped us get started in our careers and the climb up the career ladder. Our mentors watched out for us as individuals and cleared pathways as we grew in our abilities and confidence.

  • Who was your most important mentor?
  • What did you learn from him/her?
  • How would you judge his/her style of mentoring? Was the experience good or bad?

Evaluate your ability to be a mentor

Being a mentor is an ongoing volunteer activity, and can require that you help out an individual throughout his/her career with advice and guidance.

  • Do you have a successful healthcare IT career that you would like to share?
  • Can you effectively communicate with people about the health IT business?
  • Do you sincerely want to help people?
  • Are you admired for your career achievements and open to sharing these experiences?
  • Do you have time to answer calls and e-mails?

Tips for finding people to be mentored

Through my health IT recruiting practice, adjunct faculty work, and being on the HIMSS HIMSS – Career Services Task Force, I have had a chance to meet many people new to healthcare IT who are eager to gain knowledge and advice. There are several ways for you to seek out potential individuals to mentor:

  • Look for internal staff to mentor and guide on their health IT career ladder
  • Volunteer to speak at a local community college or university in their health IT programs
  • Become adjunct faculty for a local or online health IT degree or certificate program
  • Join a mentoring program in one of your associations, such as CHIME, HIMSS, or ACHE
  • Write about your health IT career in a blog or for an industry publication

The health IT industry needs your help to groom and prepare the next batch of health IT workers. Nothing will match the self-reward and self-satisfaction that you will receive from being a health IT career mentor. Consider this as a worthy goal for 2012.

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