I recently attended my medical school reunion. "Go SUNY Upstate." I was excited to see my old classmates but apprehensive about one thing. They were now full time practicing clinicians. How would they respond to my choice to pursue a career at a healthcare technology and solutions company?
Most of my buddies went into surgical specialties—I underwent surgical training as well. The majority now work in academic medical systems or community-based centers associated with an academic center. I chose a different path—and now work as vice president of solutions strategy at NextGen Healthcare.
When I told them about my career path, the reaction of my former classmates surprised me. They were excited. They liked hearing my job was to make sure a healthcare technology company took the provider perspective into account. In fact, they seemed relieved by the news.
Clinicians at NextGen Healthcare
Many NextGen Healthcare clients are familiar with Dr. Betty Rabinowitz, chief medical officer, or Dr. Bob Murry, chief medical information officer, through our blog posts and videos or having met them at user meetings or onsite at their facility. Perhaps what most people don’t know is that many more healthcare providers work throughout our organization.
Physicians and nurses at NextGen Healthcare work, for example, with the Research and Development team to ensure the company considers the provider perspective in requirements written for every project. To help make workflows smoother, we take into account the needs of clinicians based on our own real-life practice experience as well as the experiences of real provider users.
Many docs who work in technology companies practiced for a long time in their medical specialty, sometimes for decades, before even considering other options. More and more, however, I am finding providers like myself, who recognized early in their careers the positive impact they could have—by helping make sure technology was developed and implemented in ways that empower physicians, nurses, and medical office staff.
How I made the jump
Many former classmates wanted to learn how I made the transition. It’s a long way from full-time clinical practice to a career with a technology company. It wasn't an easy road.
When I began practicing as a clinician, I felt I wasn’t fully utilizing my skills. During medical training, I loved basic science as well as writing grants and scientific papers. I enjoyed planning out experiments, even tedious ones that required help from multiple labs, oversight from an ethics committee, and a long, drawn-out approval processes. I also enjoyed standing at the podium and speaking at meetings.
But I was missing some skills and experience I needed to transition to a new career. Medical school did not prepare me for the business world. I could take care of patients—accounting, marketing, project management, and business operations, however, were foreign to me.
First, I became certified in project management. Next, I got my MBA at the University of Texas at Austin. Then I felt ready to execute any project, as well as strategize, fund, plan, and profit from a great idea.
A strong clinical voice
My career at NextGen Healthcare has spanned the full portfolio of the company's products and services. It has allowed me to use both my clinical and business skills.
Currently, my role is focused on process improvement as well as strategic and operational aspects of developing and managing our products and services. I also ensure the company considers the provider perspective when determining priorities across our portfolio, expanding our offerings, and making tough business decisions.
The business side of medicine is growing. The industry needs a strong clinical voice. Those who seek to fulfill this need are likely to find a rewarding career. It is rewarding to think that the decisions I make can improve the lives of tens of thousands of providers and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of patients.
When I was providing care for patients each day, I could help one person at a time. Now my work has the potential to impact the entire healthcare system.
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