How Veterans Can Break into Healthcare IT

Healthcare information technology (IT) is a field that may appeal to veterans or servicemembers transitioning out of the military who’d like to play a pivotal role in ensuring that patients receive quality care.

Healthcare IT enables providers to meet patients’ needs and improve services by fostering enhanced communication and access to medical records. There are three primary subsets:

  • Electronic health records (EHRs) represent the national movement toward digitizing all patient records, which means physicians are no longer tied to paper files. If a patient has an overnight emergency, their primary care doctor can access the individual’s historical files from any location, whether at home or while on vacation, to share information with other providers in a matter of minutes.
  • Personal health records (PHRs) represent information compiled by patients, such as dietary habits, exercise and vital statistics like blood pressure, which a physician or provider can access online.
  • E-prescribing represents a turn from paper prescriptions, which can get lost or miscommunicated, to digital orders sent directly from a provider to a pharmacy.

As more hospitals and healthcare facilities adopt federal requirements for converting paper patient files to digital records, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth for healthcare positions such as medical records and health information technicians (13% through 2026).

Veterans considering a career in healthcare IT may want to consider a college with a program in healthcare administration or health informatics to gain an understanding of issues such as ethics, technology and management. Healthcare internships also provide an opportunity to gain hands-on experience and develop professional networks that could lead to full-time work.

IT experience gained during military service can come in handy for veterans looking to apply their technology background to the delivery of healthcare services. Some colleges also grant college credit for prior military experience, enabling veterans to accelerate the pace of earning a degree.

Aside from technical skills, servicemembers and veterans possess traits employers value, such as leadership, critical decision-making and an attention to detail, according to a 2017 report by the Rand Corporation.

Pursuing a Health IT Position

Veterans should consider that entering the civilian workforce often means they are joining a deep pool of qualified applicants who also have the necessary skills that employers desire.

Civilian employers may not necessarily recognize or understand military jargon, so it’s a good idea for veterans to “demilitarize” their resumes by describing their experience using more common language. Other job search tips for veterans:

  • Networking can be a critical, but often overlooked, tool to help secure a position. Technology has made networking easier and more accessible than simply attending job fairs to shake hands with potential employers. Veterans can make contact and build relationships with those individuals who in turn can offer advice and guidance or recommend them to a colleague.
  • Developing a vibrant online presence, through social media or the creation of a personal website, can highlight accomplishments and provide a deeper context for showing how a veteran’s military background has prepared him or her for a specific career.
  • In addition, there are many veteran-centric job listing websites that can be easily accessed, which can provide a wealth of opportunities and help veterans better hone their resume to distinguish it from a crowded field of applicants.

More than anything, veterans need to be persistent. Real life often can interfere with and disrupt a person’s best intentions. If several months have passed without any contact, it’s wise to reach back out with a gentle reminder that the veteran is still available and interested in finding a job.

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