Interviewing for a CIO position at an academic medical center, health science center, or medical school can be more intense and more complicated than at other health system organizations. The differences can vary. I have outlined some of them for you below.
Don’t be surprised to see academic CIO titles different than those at community-based hospitals or health systems. There are CIO, VP/CIO, and SVP/CIO titles, but other examples include the following:
- Assistant Vice Chancellor of Information Technology
- Executive Director, Technology Services
- Chief Information Technology Officer
- Associate Dean of IT & Informatics
An academic search selection committee can have many high-level individuals from across the campus. Two recent searches I worked were overseen by a committee of 14 that consisted of MDs and PhDs as well chairs, chiefs, deans, and other key stakeholders. There are usually co-chairs who guide the selection process and keep the committee on track. When you are evaluated by a committee, you can expect structured questions, a long process and, if asked to interview, a formal face-to-face interview with the entire committee which usually lasts an hour or less. Some titles that may be included in the selection committee are:
- PhD (Chair, Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology)
- MD (Senior Associate Provost for Education)
- MD (Vice Provost of Research)
- Associate Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance
- Chief Quality and Performance Improvement Officer
- Chief Technology Services Officer, School of Medicine
- MD, MPH (Professor and Division Chief, Health Informatics and Implementation Science)
When you learn the names and titles of those in the selection committee, check out their backgrounds, search LinkedIn, and prepare yourself with pertinent facts. You may have people, places, and things in common. If you are interviewing at a public institution, be sure to research online salaries for key leaders.
Many CIOs on campus
When looking for an academic CIO position, be sure to find out what entities are under the CIO’s direction. An academic campus may have several CIOs over individual entities or one CIO over several areas. The areas of responsibility may include these variations:
- Medical center, faculty practice plan or foundation, medical school, research, clinical informatics, and university
- Medical center only
- Medical school only
- For-profit centers
- University and academic computing
- Faculty practice plans and foundations
- Other medical groups
Whatever CIO position you interview for, there will be a need to collaborate with the other CIOs on campus.
Are you qualified to be an academic CIO?
Obtaining an academic CIO position sets you apart in the world of health system CIOs. It adds significant credibility to your background, and it is one of the harder CIO positions to obtain. Some key qualifications include the following:
- Advanced degree usually required (post-graduate degree preferred)
- Previous academic CIO or academic IT leadership experience
- Clinical research, data warehouse, and business intelligence expertise
- Physician and faculty practice relationship skills
- Political and business savvy
Academic and teaching organizations are wonderful places to advance your career. You may also want to consider CIO opportunities at children’s hospitals and cancer centers that have academic research and teaching components. The academic health system IT environment can be a challenge, but it may provide you with tremendous growth opportunities as a CIO.