By Rachel Lord (’13)
Rachel started her career in health care and has worked with technology companies, health systems, post-acute organizations, and other industry stakeholders to deliver increased collaboration, patient access and operational efficiency.
So, you’re thinking about health care? Whatever prompted you to read this, I’m excited for you. Working in health care and contributing to solutions in this field is not only fulfilling but also impactful. Whether you’re considering the role of caregiver, analyst, or disrupter, health care can use your help. Here are a few ways you can get started if you’re planning a transition or learning about your options.
1. Opportunities at your feet
Many organizations have specific teams or verticals dedicated to health care, including focus areas such as consulting and technology. At times it can be tricky to make the switch, but here are a few methods I’ve used in the past to explore internal opportunities.
- Conduct informational interviews with leaders and colleagues working on health care teams. This is a great opportunity to learn more about their work and show an interest in upcoming projects. It is also a great way to develop mentors or promoters who can advocate for your involvement. I’ve attended resource planning meetings in which this has made a difference for project assignments.
- If colleagues are open to it, share your resume and ask if your experience fits with their business needs. Understanding if gaps exist so you can develop an action plan to round out your skills and present yourself as a valuable new team member.
- Understand the process for moving internally. Is there an application or interview process to join another team or project? Can you spend a certain percentage of your current work hours on a project? Or would you have the option to take on some extra project work on your own time? Answers to these questions can help you navigate your move or propose creative arrangements to allow for exposure to health care projects.
- Follow up with colleagues you’ve met. If there is no immediate opportunity, checking in not only to see if there are openings but also to share your progress and skill development shows initiative and keeps you top of mind should opportunities arise.
2. Health care isn’t just in the hospital
In this case I am including many different care settings, as well as ancillary topics. Primary care and digital health, as well as home care for an aging population are increasingly important to maintain a healthy population. Genetic testing is another growing segment delivering insights directly to patients. And we can’t forget pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, or insurance. All of these pieces contribute to the broader ecosystem and have opportunities for impact.
3. Give back and gain skills
Volunteering has so many positive attributes: the ability to make someone’s day and provide help where needed, the understanding of what you might like or dislike about a certain field, and the addition of skills and experience that can be applied beyond that setting.
When I volunteered at a clinic, I connected with the broader mission of health care and enjoyed helping patients. I also understood how complicated it can be for a patient to access care. After pairing that with my affinity for business and innovation, I decided to start my career at a health care research and technology firm.
4. Know your market
Health care is incredibly complex in part due to misaligned incentives from various stakeholders, issues with operations and price transparency, as well as consumer frustration navigating the system. The U.S. has world class health care, but many challenges delivering that care. Understanding why this is the case and how this changes over time will bring broader context when entering this field (and show you’ve done your homework in an interview). I’ve listed a few sources below as a starting point.
5. It’s a small world after all
I’ve found most people in health care are open to conversations about industry best practices and their experiences. Reaching out to clinicians and business professionals, researchers and consumers willing to chat can be one of the best ways to understand the challenges each face and what their day-to-day looks like. If you do pursue a role or career in health care, it’s likely you’ll run into them again. Health care starts to feel like a close-knit community after a while.
Check out the following resources recommended by Rachel to learn more about working in the health care industry.
An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back by Elizabeth Rosenthal
Reverse Innovation in Health Care: How to Make Value-Based Delivery Work by Vijay Govindarajan and Ravi Ramamurti
POLITICO Pulse (Dan Diamond runs this outlet, as well as a podcast, to share information about health care policy and implications)
Daily Briefing (Often the go-to daily newsletter health system leaders receive in their inbox)
Rock Health (A source for keeping tabs on digital health news and startups in the field)
HIStalk (This content has a health IT focus with interviews and blog posts)
Becker’s Hospital Review (From policy to M&A to health systems, Scott Becker created this resource to share industry news)
Twitter Accounts to Follow: