The annual HIMSS conference is a microcosm of the healthcare IT world—and it’s a guy world.
Women in healthcare IT have taken similar paths into the specialized field, but few make it to leadership positions. That includes to the CIO office. HIMSS 2014 addressed the slim ranks of female leaders in its session, Wisdom and Advice for the Next Wave of Female Executives.
Pamela Arora, VP and CIO, Children’s Medical Center, Dallas, advised the women not to focus on limitations. This includes the perception of a ‘glass ceiling.’ Rather, she likes to think about the big picture, the challenges, the opportunities—the long game, as it were.
Along the career path for professionals like Arora, change is an opportunity. “How you perceive change makes the difference,” she said, noting, “Change can be very exciting when you can help shape it.”
The pivotal moment is what most refer to as the ‘big break.’ When you get your big break, Arora advised her female audience, it will be handed to you on a silver platter. “Your big break opportunity will be the one that others run away from. There are many challenges in this industry. Gravitate toward them and you will find opportunities come your way.”
Molly Joel Coye, MD, MPH, chief innovation officer at Los Angeles-based UCLA Health summarized her advice into main points:
- Envision the future you want to create and enlist everyone to your cause;
- Listen acutely to be able to understand people and be able to lead them; and
- Be frank and generous to create trust and foster aspirations.
Data is your ally, she adds. “Using data to make a point is a very powerful way of bringing people along. When up against a problem put it out to others. Ask other people. Be transparent. Don’t’ assume you alone must come up with the answer.”
But beware, says Coye, using a quote from Cross-eyed and Painless by the New Wave band Talking Heads: “Facts all come with points of view; Facts don’t do what I want them to.”