I’m heading to the CHIME Fall Forum for a few days. Many of my health care CIO colleagues will be there. I look forward to the chance to network and learn from them in track sessions, and hear from keynote speakers. I’m even being pressed into service on a panel called “Leadership Stories Worth Telling” as there was a last minute cancellation.
I have been active in professional organizations for many years. Anyone who doesn’t take the opportunity to get involved in such organizations is limiting their own professional development and, in turn, limiting what they can offer to their employer.
I remember many years ago when I attended my first professional conference. At that point, I was the sole person responsible for “end user computing” (a phrase from another era) in our IT organization. I reported directly to IT senior management. I was pretty much on my own to figure out this domain. After reading industry publications and ads, I thought everyone else was light years ahead of us. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. But I didn’t realize that until I got out and started talking to others. An early lesson in my career — we are all struggling with the same issues and have a lot to learn from one another.
Fast forward to today where professional organizations connect us to one another on just about any subject. We learn from each other through member-to-member surveys, research warehouses loaded with templates and white papers, and frequent topic-specific webinars. Layer on top of that social media where you can follow the twitter feed for leading thinkers and innovators, read someone’s blog, and start online discussion topics — there’s no excuse for not connecting, sharing, and constantly learning. Do you really think you’re the only one still trying to figure out your cloud, BYOD, or analytics strategies at this point?
So when is it time to really start giving back? That’s up to you – where you are in your career and personal life, how much time you can give, and what you think you have to offer.
When you are early in your career, you are most likely to attend local events and participate in local chapters of professional organizations. HIMSS is a great one with monthly chapter meetings and speakers in every state. You may be limited in travel with young children at home. Archived webinars at your convenience are a great source of education.
When you are mid-career, you may consider joining organizations and finding ways to get involved – serving on a committee in your special area of interest is a great start. Connections you make will last a long time and serve you in more ways than you realize.
When you are later in your career and have more to offer, it’s hard to say no to requests. It’s definitely time to give back. Speaking, participating in panels, teaching a course at a local college, running for a board position in your professional organization are all ways to both give back and continue your own learning journey. You have to decide what you are comfortable with, what time commitments work for you, and where your passion lies.
My challenge the next two weeks will be balance — keeping up with my CIO responsibilities while at CHIME and at an AAMI Board meeting and strategic planning committee for Friday and Saturday sessions next week. It’s doable and I won’t regret any of it. I’ll be better for it and hopefully others will benefit from my involvement.