I have worked in healthcare IT for about 15 years now. There is always something new going on. The real IT challenge is indeed the legacy data. Laws often require data to be kept forever, but the systems they live on won't last that long. So you always have to keep your eyes on how to get the old data into the new systems; which can sometimes be a major challenge, especially as you move from paper to digital. Laws also require restrictive access, and balancing the accessibility of the data can also be challenging. A doctor or nurse may need access RIGHT NOW! to save a life, but unauthorized people are NEVER allowed to access the data. Quite the challenge, and we are not always successful.
The people challenge can be the doctors and nurses, but they are wonderful people to work with. If I treat them as equally intelligent but specialized in their field and expect the same from them I find that we get along great. And I try to learn as much as I can from them and assist them to learn from me and it gets even better. Many of the best doctors and nurses are polymaths and love to learn all they can about as many things as they can. Medicine is such a complex field that it is very fulfilling, but everyone likes a change of focus occasionally.
And yes, you don't have a life when you work in Healthcare IT. As doctors and nurses may be called on at any moment to save a life, the IT people may be called upon at any moment to assist in saving that same life. It can be very fulfilling to know that you are helping save lives in a tangible way. On the flip side, we all make mistakes and sometimes you have to step back and ask yourself if you could have done something different or better, but you need to focus on lessons learned so it gets done correctly the next time, and move on.
When you work in Healthcare IT, you are not just a computer person anymore, you are part of the healthcare team. Not everyone can take the pressure, I've seen a lot of people come and go, but for those of us who enjoy the work it is wonderful.
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