Networking for Lean People Looking to Move into Healthcare


Thanks to visibility from my blog and my book, Lean Hospitals, I get a number of questions from people about how to transition into healthcare from other industries, people who have great Lean experience in manufacturing or retail, for example. I've been getting two to four of these emails per week. I've had a number of phone discussions and a local DFW-area networking lunch with a really skilled Lean candidate.

I'm not taking credit for his job search success, but I talked with someone in Ontario a few weeks ago and he now has a job working directly for a hospital. That's very exciting and we need more of that. There's so much waste in healthcare — that translates into an abundance of opportunity for talented Lean change agents to move into healthcare. There are over 5,000 hospitals in the U.S., so we need all the help we can get (and this is true around the world, as well).

So, I'm trying to build some online resources with we can form a community of people who are looking to make that move. “Lean healthcare” job seekers can compare notes and help each other and maybe be helped by people, like myself, who have already made the transition into Lean healthcare consulting or a job directly into a hospital.

I have the domain pointing to a blog page here that will be a central resource of links. I also have a custom “social network” page at (now closed) that I'll be inviting people to participate in – both helping build the content and helping other job seekers and career changers.

One such email asks:

Is there any advice you can offer? How do I get into this field? Do I need a medical background? Should I try to find a job with a hospital? I want to read some books and I recently signed up for an rss feed of your blog. What else can I do to get involved and gain tangible experience?

Another asks:

My question for you is how to sell myself to these hospital systems. How do I translate what I've been doing in industry for 20 years into a health care setting? Also, are there any professional societies where I can meet the appropriate people? I realize that networking is the only real option I have. Management Engineering and Lean Health Care jobs aren't advertised and if I send in a blind resume, then I won't stand out.

I'll give some thought to this and will come back to this post to give some thoughts over the weekend, hopefully. The health care crisis is pretty urgent (the need to improve quality and reduce costs), so let's give help to the people who want to come in and help.

How would you answer these questions, if you've already made the transition to healthcare from another industry?

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  1. Mark Graban says

    The domain might be blocked by hospital or corporate web firewalls. Sorry… I don’t have the time at the moment to develop something on a custom domain that wouldn’t be blocked.

    Wanted to get something up “quick, free, and dirty.”

  2. Mark Welch says

    I originally learned lean in manufacturing and have been in healthcare for almost 3 years. For those of you wanting to make the transition to healthcare, don’t be intimidated by the clinical, technical, legal, etc. aspects. The lean fundamentals, principles, and tools all apply. Where there are processes to improve, lean works. It’s as simple as that. Sell yourself with your lean achievements and knowledge, and a willingness and patience to learn a new field, as well as thorough research of the organizations to which you are applying. Best of success to those of you attempting to make this transition. Personally, I LOVE healthcare. The priorities and values align quite nicely with my own, and the people are some of the finest souls you’ll ever want to meet.

  3. Mark jaben says

    From a different angle, I have a long health care background and am just getting into Lean, how do I make the transition?

  4. Mark Graban says

    Mark Jaben- there’s different ways of answering depending on your exact question:

    1) How to move to a hospital that is already using Lean for a full time Lean job?
    2) How to use Lean in your existing work?
    3) How to help your hospital get a Lean program going…

    Feel free to post here or email.


  5. mark jaben says

    hi, Mark

    Sorry for the delay responding, I would be most interested in your thoughts about #1, moving to a hospital interested in or already using Lean.

  6. Mark Graban says

    Mark J – many of the hospitals looking to hire for lean positions are saying they want or require people with clinical experience (which can be frustrating to those coming in from the outside). I'll connect you with an MD in Ohio who made a similar transition… I'll send you an email.

  7. […] built out with links and content for a community of people making this career transition. Here is some more background about this […]

  8. […] I launched the site (see my blog post), I was getting a lot of emails from people asking about how they could transition their career and […]

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