Learning While Teaching: My Experience With CHIME Boot Camp

Cara Babachicos, Corporate Director of IS and CIO, Community Hospitals and Non-Acute Entities, Partners Healthcare

Cara Babachicos, Corporate Director of IS and CIO, Community Hospitals and Non-Acute Entities, Partners Healthcare

I’m now coming up to my third year of teaching in the CHIME Boot Camp, and I have to start off by saying that I truly look forward to my yearly teaching assignments. For me it has been an absolute pleasure working with fellow CHIME faculty and staff in developing the course work for each of the programs. I’m truly energized and I feel the adrenaline rush of us all coming together after hours of prepping and preparing to deliver what we hope will be an A-plus classroom experience.

Now, teaching isn’t a new thing for me. I have taught on college campuses for more than 15 years now, but it’s really different when you are teaching your colleagues. The folks in the room are not there to get credit for a class in an MBA program. They are not there to learn about organizational behavior or strategy; rather, they are there for an exceptional experience of learning from their healthcare peers about how they might perfect their skills. As a teacher, I really want to bring my A game when I teach in this program.

If you asked me to describe what you might learn from the CIO Boot Camp, I like to think of it like this: we all have tools that have allowed us to get to where we are, the CHIME boot camp allows us to perfect the tools in our toolbox — maybe by adding a few more tools, but also by sharpening the tools that we have.

The fact that I’m teaching both peers and up-and-comers challenges me to deliver the content in a richer way by sharing anecdotes, best practices, and lessons learned through my career. We facilitate the discussions to engage the students so that we can all learn from one another. The candor in the room allows you to grow as well as to learn that some of your challenges or struggles are not unique, and that there are some tactics that can help weather the storm. You will leave the CIO Boot Camp with renewed energy, much more insight into who you are, and of course, probably a long list of books that you want to read. But there is something truly special that comes from the dialogue and honest conversations that at the end of the day, if nothing else you realize that you are not alone in your challenges and that you will most likely persevere.

I’ve also learned a lot myself from teaching in the Boot Camp. One of my biggest takeaways has been that there is not necessarily one path to follow to become a CIO, and even the CIO role varies. Of course there are the folks who took a somewhat traditional path of moving up through the technology or application ranks, but I’ve also met the CFO turned CIO, the CIO who also is the VP of HR, and even a few psychologists turned CIOs, which is probably a much more advantageous than one can imagine.

Here are some pearls of wisdom I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Reconfirm that healthcare is the industry that you want to work in. Once you reconfirm that, let that drive you to want to be become more.
  • Enjoy what you do, because work takes up a good portion of our day, and if you don’t bring the passion and the energy to the work that you do, it will surely become a chore.
  • Be honest with yourself about what you do and why, and where you might need to make some change.

From teaching in the program, I’ve also learned that those who are most fulfilled at work often have a great balance with their personal life. Whether you climb mountains, run marathons, or donate time to your church or community, enrich all aspects of your life and it will lead to a stronger whole.

At the beginning of the program I often hear from many folks that they just don’t have the time to balance their personal and professional lives, but by the end of the program they are committed to do so and are reflecting on how they are going to make changes.

At the end of the three-day CHIME Boot Camp, I walk away with renewed energy and a feeling that I can do more. That’s the experience that I get as one of the faculty, so imagine the student experience. It can be a life-changing experience if you are willing to engage and let the process play out.

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