Mark's Note: I recently closed down the Ning social network group called “Move to Healthcare,” created for people who were looking to transition their industry experience into healthcare . I had posted a success story, shared by Michael Lombard, about how he transitioned from manufacturing (his old blog) into healthcare (his new blog). For every case like Michael's, there were probably two cases where people had a lot of trouble getting hired into healthcare. I'm sharing one of those stories below — shared with permission, but changing a few details for the sake of anonymity. Below that original post are some comments from other participants in that old site. There are some provocative comments and I'm curious to hear your thoughts…
Original Post from Move to Healthcare, by Anonymous:
I recently went through an interview (2 telephone, 1 video) process for a Director of Quality position in a hospital. This job would have been my dream come true — close to home and family, in healthcare, and a good challenge for somebody with 20+ years of quality experience, including almost ten as a LSSBB. I honestly felt that the executive group thought I was their candidate of choice. In addition to the above discussions, they just flew my wife and I out to their site, set my wife up with a local realtor, and had a VP dinner with my wife and I after I had a day of interviewing where is felt like clicked from a personality and culture standpoint. The interview was last Monday the XXth.
Sound like I should have been optimistic? Not so fast. Apparently the group of seven or 8 functional Directors were concerned that I would have a problem because of the lack of healthcare experience. (I'm guessing a little but from the CEO on down, they were the only ones that even mentioned it)
Today, Wednesday I got a call from the HR recruiter with negative news–it was thought that healthcare quality problems were different and my 20+ years in manufacturing, service, and government contracting was not enough evidence of my ability to learn new things.
So it really does feel like there is a bias against any non-healthcare skills. I am at a loss to understand how they can be so sure that another person's healthcare experience, that was gained in creating some of the problems, is critical in solving them.
I will keep working at this transition to healthcare, but next time I accept an interview offer I will make sure that the healthcare “professionals” have read and understood the exact amount of healthcare experience I have in my past (none).
Comments and discussion from other readers:
I can identify with that experience. I've had it twice in my efforts to make the transition. I think its because of their lack of understanding about the skillset of “LSS practitioners” which prevents them from seeing how we apply a set of tools to examine, analyze, measure, and improve processes without having previous experience with that process. This is a completely false assumption on their part, but not all take that point of view. Unfortunately, it is in the majority which I have found, and I believe it is primarily due to their lack of knowledge about the “lean tools.”
I'm sorry to hear about your story. It seems really irresponsible of the hospital to let it get that far into the process before deciding lack of healthcare experience was a dealbreaker. What a shame that they don't see that your experience is transferable.
Some healthcare organizations are, thankfully, open to outsiders.
I wonder if the directors vetoed you because they're not really on board with Lean anyway? I know it's no consolation, but it might have been a really frustrating experience had you gotten the job. I met someone recently, a former Danaher Business System leader who was hired by a hospital that said they wanted to do lean, but it sounds like they really don't want to (or they didn't know what it would mean to really implement lean, so she's very frustrated).
Good luck in your continued search.
The original poster:
Thanks to both of you for your responses, it helps put some perspective on the experience. In addition to the activities mentioned, they had also called and queried 3 references and initiated a background check. My profile that I brought to the application for the position was pretty broad–Lean, Six Sigma, Baldrige, ~ 10 months experience with 2 major hospitals (consulting not FTE) in Baldrige-based Lean improvment. I am thinking that the problem was that I did advocate a need for change. Reviewing the Director group interview responses I recall a focus toward “we need to get better but we are comfortable being what we are now”. And of course an “outsider” would probably seek to introduce change that would not be appropriate or comfortable, in their consideration. I think I am most disappointed in the Executive group. I feel they understood the need for a focus that was outside their current paradigm but would/could not countermand the desires of the director group. In my opinion, being a leader sometimes means you have to make choices that are not consensus, if your wisdom provides you that insight–sometimes a democracy is not the structure that is going to allow you to make the right decisions that are uncomfortable and change the status quo.
I appreciate your comments regarding the need to sometimes make the difficult decisions; choices that may make some folks uncomfortable and CHANGE the status quo. Healthcare needs to CHANGE.
I also commend your positive attitude. I was given the same advice about perhaps avoiding a poor fit. There's a lot of wisdom in that thinking. Keep that positive outlook and realize you're not the only one on the journey.
What's frustrating to me, is the pervasive attitude that some in the Healthcare industry have adopted. I read a lot about the problems, issues and ‘taxing circumstances' in Healthcare these days; but see very few articles on new solutions, creative thinking, or efforts on simulating new processes. My frustration centers on the ‘bias', as you put it, toward those outside Healthcare. If you don't think our previous experience can help improve the industry, fine…we're big boys and girls. I can't see the justification (or more importantly, the benefit); however, to groan about nothing getting done. There ARE folks out there that can help.
And so we move on. Don't just settle. Keep the positive outlook…eventually you'll find the right fit.
I had a very similar experience, I was working with a health authority in [redacted] conducting a 3P workshop for their new hospital. Long story cut short – I conducted several workshops and the feedback I received was good and the workshop a sucess. But the one thing I noticed was how bigoted these health care folks were to non-healthcare practitioners working in their field. For all their PC behavior and celebrating all things PC they do not accept any diversity in their field. Once I caught on to just how bigoted they were I kept my mouth shut so they would not discover my secret. I know it's something you can not do when applying for the position you were going fill but a word to the wise…..down play any lean knowledge you gained in manufacturing or they will label you no matter how well you did in showing them the way to true north. Someday the will see the light…but I do not think it will be for some time.
Your thoughts and reactions? Leave a comment below…
Don't want to miss a post or podcast? Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.