About three years ago, I started a group on the Ning platform called “Move to Healthcare.” Sadly, I've decided to shut down the site, mainly because it just wasn't being used much anymore. The chart below (click for larger view) shows the usage trend by month. Ning was originally a free platform, but shifted (understandably) to a paid model. Even at just $25 a month, it didn't seem like the value was there for the community of users.
I'll reflect a bit on the history of the site…
When 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 skills from manufacturing into healthcare. At that point, I had been working as a consultant in healthcare for a few years, but I had never gotten hired directly as an employee with a health system. So the Ning group seemed like a way to form a community where people could help each other, compare notes, and get coached by those who HAD make that direct transition.
As you can see from the chart, there was a lot of traffic and interest. We eventually had a few hundred users, but after the first 18 months, things really trailed off. Even though I had a lot of links to the site on my blog and the email newsletters for my book Lean Hospitals, traffic trailed off and I didn't put the time into really trying to build, foster, and stimulate the community. This was a side project for me and it seems online communities like that require a lot of time and attention.
Following the PDSA cycle, it was again time to “Study” the system and sometimes the “Adjust” is to shut down something that doesn't seem to be adding much value anymore. I guess this was part of my Jim Collins “stop doing list.” I worked to find a new site sponsor who would not just pay for the site but also put more effort into the community… but I wasn't able to make that happen.
I don't think the interest in moving over to healthcare has subsided. I still get a lot of emails and questions. I'll have to try to address them privately, via the blog, or by referring people to others.
In the discussion forum on the site, there were a few success stories of people who DID move to healthcare. There were also a lot of frustrations from people who were unsuccessful in their attempts, often getting far into the interviewing process, but then being turned down for not having a healthcare background. I'll try to share one of those stories if I get permission from somebody who wrote about that.
But, I'll end with one of the success stories, my friend Michael Lombard, who was able to move from manufacturing into a job at Children's Medical Center in Dallas (check out his blog here). His story is shared with permission:
I Made it to Healthcare (by Michael Lombard)
When I took the severance package from previous employer, I had no idea that I would be in working in healthcare within a couple of months. I had spent the previous seven years at a manufactured housing company, the only company I had worked for since graduating college. The “trailer” business is not exactly known as a springboard for aspiring healthcare professionals, so I never even really contemplated a move into this industry. But, I got lucky.
After spending about a month calling on every single construction-industry contact I had ever made, I realized that construction jobs were extremely hard to find. Turns out the construction business hasn't been doing too well the past few years.
With my optimism waning, I began contemplating alternative futures: English teacher in the Yucatan Peninsula, run the family business in Florida, go back to school full-time, etc. Upon hearing my ideas for our future, my wife immediately vetoed them all and told me to keep looking for a “real job.” Turns out my wife has the ultimate say.
With that in mind, I decided that what I really wanted to do what be a lean coach, and I didn't care in which industry. So, I expanded my job search to any and all industries. I also began volunteering my services to whomever would accept my help. I offered to write blog posts for people, lead training events, and I even do a month-long pro-bono consulting gig in another State. I just wanted to feel productive and let people know that I was in it just for the privilege of being a lean coach again.
Then, right when I was building some serious momentum in my lucrative volunteer/pro-bono career, I got lucky. A great friend, who is probably too classy to want to be recognized, helped me re-connect with a senior manager at a large hospital who was looking to hire a project manager to lead process improvement activities. Perfect place, perfect time.
That's how I ended up in healthcare. Simple as that. I say I got lucky, not because I didn't deserve an opportunity, but because there are so many excellent lean coaches out there looking to get into healthcare. If you are reading this, you are probably one of these talented people that I respect so much. All I can say to you, based on a mere two weeks in my new job, is that the problems in healthcare resemble the problems everywhere else. If you are a lean thinker and have a flexible personality, you can most definitely be a lean coach in healthcare. Don't let anybody tell you any different. I hope to see you in healthcare soon…we need you!
Thanks again to Michael for sharing. There are still a list of resources available via this page: www.MoveToHealthcare.com (it forwards to a page on my blog). If you see opportunities to update those resource lists, leave a comment on the appropriate page.
Thanks to all who participated in the Ning site, as a job seeker, a hiring organization, or as a mentor. I met some great people along the way and I'm glad to be able to keep in touch with them.
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