HIMSS17 Women in Health IT Roundtable

(music) One of the things that I really was impressed with about this award in the first place was the choice of the word “influential.” We didn’t look at “power,” we weren’t looking at “lifetime accomplishment,” we were looking at influence and we were saying we need to speak to all of our women in HIT right now where they’re sitting and it’s so important that women understand how incredibly influential we are and how much change we can provoke from wherever we are. The thing that made me accept it and understand it was that I accepted it for all women in Saudi Arabia – it’s not just personal and only for me, it really recognizes all their efforts. I really felt the impact of this award. If we don’t help each other, who will? Right? Who will? And I think this award struck me especially last night you know, just listening to each of the awardees and, you know, making your comments – I was struck by the diversity. The award is really meant to wake up all of our women colleagues and say, “We want you, too.” All of you can start influencing right now. It’s okay to experience and to bloom on your time and as you get enough experience to develop your own internal compass on where you should be going. To have confidence in yourself, you’re lucky if you have mentors at a very early stage of your development and the opportunity to know, particularly in this country, that your world is an oyster. What type of job are you looking for? What type of position? And talk to the hiring people and say, “What type of education and experience are you looking for?” You know, so, I think that – seek guidance, because we will take twists and turns. I don’t think anybody in this room had a linear path to where they are today. I always try to encourage them to stay in the moment and really be focused on the work that they have at hand and be open to exploring that their path may take them in a different direction. It’s when you take a risk, when you step out of that comfort zone that you can really have some wonderful experiences, good or bad – and the other learning lesson is some of my bad work experiences have been my most advanced learning opportunities. By surrounding yourself with women who think like you and want to encourage you instead of those that want to put you down or feel threatened by you, you get so much further. Do some role-playing, do some negotiation skills to give women kind of up-and-coming in their careers an opportunity to just test that out and get comfortable with it. When looking at a new opportunity, trying negotiate salary, is that really the potential employer you know would say that “Wow, this person, one, believes in herself about what the value she can bring to the table and secondly, what a good negotiator! That’s what I need! That’s what I need. So, I really have tried to think about it in a different way that is really a powerful tool that we can communicate about ourselves. One of the components that we want to stand up – you’ve got to build an initiative piece by piece – is around the mentoring. We’ve established the footprint – how do I say – we’ve taken the beach, right? It’s now time to head up the hill. What do we do to be valuable is that perhaps there’s a way of connecting it – you know, to the extent that you want to be connected – in your communities with the HIMSS chapter where we do career fairs and that you talk, right? Then share your story as an influential woman in health IT. It’s to advocate other women going further in a profession that has been traditionally male-based. We all said it in many ways and that’s what we’re doing, that’s what you have started, that’s what you and others have started. There’s foundational perspectives and characteristics that we all share and could be encouraging people that we work with, our daughters, our sons, and those are really important attributes of leaders, I think. We have to have greater communication between patient populations and traditional IT professionals. Lots more going on and going back and forth for the future of healthcare that we have coming. Facebook and Twitter and all of that have changed things. All of a sudden people who are completely devalued to the community in which they live and have no money to leave it have the ability to become a completely different person online and all of a sudden can meet and greet all of you wonderful people and you’re part of the reason that’s possible. We are women leaders but we are leaders. We are healthcare IT leaders but we are leaders and I don’t want to ever want to lose that we’re building that as a core rather than a focus. How do we take this moment and this recognition and turn it into something and turn it into not a movement necessarily but just how do we add value back to the HIMSS effort around women and health IT? So what can we collectively do? And the analogy that keeps coming to my mind it’s like how the Grand Canyon was created. Water. Just steady, consistent water. And eventually over time, you get the Grand Canyon. So, how do we become the water that continuously just quietly sometimes with some ripples sometimes with maybe some waterfalls continue to work at making the Grand Canyon?

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