It has long been debated which certifications are important in our industry. After watching client requirement trends over the last 8 years I've come to a few conclusions:
1. Epic Certifications are important if you plan on consulting. Typically clients (client = hospitals/healthcare systems/large vendors etc.) will not hire a consultant for an Epic related project unless that consultant is Epic certified. If you're seeking a permanent role within a hospital that requirement may be flexible as the client might be willing to get the right candidate certified after hire. As most people know - you must be sponsored by a employer in order to obtain an Epic Certification.
2. Security Certifications: Typically if you are working in IT security certifications are required, the requirements will depend on the role. Most often requested are the CISSP or CISM.
3. IT Certifications: There are so many certifications in this area that it could be it's own blog post. Typically the IT Certifications that are most requested are: Citrix, various CompTIA certs, various Cisco certs, various Microsoft certs, Redhat certs, VMware certs, helpdesk certs, database certs, programming and web certs.
4. Project Management Certifications: The only Project Mgmt certification that is in constant demand is the PMP from Project Management Institute (PMI) or other accredited institute. Clients are also very picky about this certification. It usually doesn't matter if a candidate has taken the courses - if they haven't sat for and passed the exam they won't be considered. Additionally I've seen clients turn down candidates with 10+ yrs of Project Management experience but no certification. As a side note - gaining training in methodologies (Agile, Waterfall) is always a bonus.
5. Healthcare Technology General Certifications: There are literally hundreds of general HIT certifications available. I have never yet seen a client request this type of certification. Experience trumps an HIT certification every time. For a number of years people with no Healthcare IT experience were obtaining HIT certifications and these folks were rarely if ever chosen for a job in the industry. If you have a background in HIT and you are considering getting a general HIT Certification - don't waste your money. Go back to school and obtain a BS or Masters Degree instead.
6. Other EMR system/applications Certifications: It is rare to see certifications required except for Epic however, itt doesn't hurt to gain certifications in other EMR systems / applications, so if given the opportunity it would be wise to take it.
7. Coding Certifications: If you are in this area or want to get into it, the certifications are highly desirable. The certs requested most often are the RHIT or RHIA.
8. Integration Certifications: This is another area where certifications are often required. There are many available and it will depend on the specific client needs. If you are working in integration, gaining certification is always beneficial. (Cloverleaf, Epic Bridges, Mirth, HL7, OpenLink and so on)
How to tell if the client is flexible:
1. Ask the recruiter that is hiring for the job.
2. Carefully review the job description - if it says XYZ Certification REQUIRED then likely they are not going to be flexible. If it says "preferred" or "desired" then there will be some flexibility.
Medical/Clinical Experience: Finally, clinical experience is in high demand. Having a background as an MT or RN or MD or PharmD and so on, is very beneficial. Now is a perfect time for someone with a clinical background that wants to transition into IT to make that move.
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