We've written a lot about how the push toward integrating technology into healthcare will keep increasing the number of available jobs. The healthcare business simply can’t fill positions from the pool of people already working in the industry. If you’re in another sector, that means you have an opportunity -- actually, a lot of opportunities -- to jump in. But while we keep hearing about the great numbers of people needed, we haven't seen a lot about the skills they need.

Surgeons at Work

“Business analysts, project managers and reporting analysts are in demand,” says Cathy Northamer, district president of Robert Half Technology, Creative Group in Minneapolis. “Because of changes to system hardware, we’re also seeing a need for people on the infrastructure side, although not as much because that’s traditionally at the end of the development life cycle.” Steve Garske, Ph.d., the Vice President & Chief Information Officer for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, says he’s looking for people that can program as well as handle server and desktop administration. He also needs network and systems analysts, and SAN specialists. Employers do prefer applicants to have Health IT experience, but they recognize that many skills are transferable. For example, healthcare requires a lot of reporting and reporting analysis. Applicants with the ability to slice and dice data, or with experience working with tools like Cognose or Datastage, “are very place-able,” Northamer says. Also, Garske adds, applicants skilled in PeopleSoft and Oracle support, SQL, Java, JavaScript, Web support, and network engineers “are critical to the success of our IT organization.” Soft skills -- like having the ability to communicate well and negotiate with other team members and departments -- are exceptionally important in healthcare. Initiatives often cross a number of disciplines, so you’ll be especially attractive if you understand the people side of the business and can work with all levels of users. “If an organization is changing their code, a business analyst would need to sit with users and see how they’re doing what they’re doing,” explains Northamer. “They’d need to understand the people, the technology and the business elements before going back to IT to say ‘here’s what we need to change and this is the impact it will have on the business.’” “When applying for a job, stress your soft skills and the ability to incorporate what you already know into a healthcare environment,” she suggests. If you can provide examples of how you learned something new in another position, then applied it and added value back to the company, you’ll be especially attractive. This was reported and written by Elisabeth Greenbaum Kasson, a reporter based in Los Angeles.