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Our Team Manager, Elizabeth Verbeek, had the opportunity to interview Stormy Dickson – a Dragon Consultant who started working via Computer Futures at McKesson Specialty Health over 18 months ago.  We learned how she started her career as a nurse and then transitioned into the IT side of healthcare as a Dragon Subject Matter Expert. 

1. Why did you choose this career path?

"I didn’t choose this career, it chose me."  I started my career in healthcare as a nurse. I worked with patients and family at the bedside, mostly in intensive care. I worked 12-hour night shifts for seven years. After the birth of my second daughter, I decided I needed to work daytime hours. This turn of events put me on the hunt for a new career option.  Healthcare IT and informatics was becoming the mainstream in healthcare. The hospital I worked at recognized the need for a conduit between IT and clinical care, specifically medical providers. A role was created to fill the gap and I was a great fit. My familiarity with providers' needs and their workflow, along with the ability to speak their language gave me an edge over some other, more technical, candidates. I was always interested in technology, curious and not intimidated by technology. I had disassembled and reassembled several of my computers. In hindsight, I suspect it was the revealing of this little piece of information that ultimately landed me the role of Physician Support Coordinator, thereby changing my career. 

During my tenure at the hospital, the Affordable Care Act was signed. Suddenly terms like meaningful use, advanced clinicals, physician documentation (pDoc) and computerized provider order entry (CPOE) were standard nomenclature. I was very proud to be an integral part of assisting to transition 13 hospitals, successfully, though not without pain points, to an electronic health record.

I learned about Dragon Medical soon after implementation of pDoc while painfully watching providers hunting and pecking the keys to type their notes. Dragon was the answer to assist our providers to more efficiently enter information into the patient's record.  We implemented Dragon and rather than chasing providers down to be trained on the new software (i.e. pDoc and CPOE), they were lining up at my door! I was determined to learn Dragon so I could properly support it. Not to mention, it was COOL! A few calls became many and soon enough I had earned myself the self-titled role of Dragon SME for our 13 hospital market. "Dragon problem? Just call Stormy". 

Within a year I was working for the company that worked to install and train our hospital on Dragon. It was a small company with little, in regards to standardization or training materials. So, I decided to create the materials and standardize the processes. I started as a trainer, moved into the tech services department and was eventually promoted to Manager of Training and Development for our nationwide team of Dragon Trainers. Having been with them for 4 years Computer Futures reached out to me on LinkedIn to let me know of a Dragon Consultant role with Mckesson.  I loved my job, but had reached the end of the line as far as career advancement. The opportunity offered by Computer Futures gave me the potential to learn, grow and advance my knowledge and career further. It was a thoughtful choice and I was taking a big chance. But I was confident in my skills and my ability to offer experience and knowledge worthwhile to McKesson, while having an opportunity to expand my skills and abilities.

2. What skills do you think you need to be a good Healthcare IT consultant?

It’s important to be open and accepting of new information and new ideas. Bring your knowledge to the organization but be prepared to learn and integrate new methods, technologies and work culture into your own. This will give you the ability to diversify your own skill set, thereby making you more valuable. It’s important to be open and accommodating to many different personality types. You will be given the opportunity to influence many different types of people; but only if they trust you and your work ethic.  It’s vital to build trust with both colleagues and customers. These are the people that you want to remember you, remember your name, and become comfortable to reach out to you and "consult" with you to assist with making decisions. Make yourself invaluable and memorable.

3. What would you change (if anything)?

I never questioned or altered my plan to begin my career in  nursing. Given my success thus far, I also wouldn't change my choice. However, I  never even considered any other facet of career. I was fortunate to have chosen and pursued a degree that would allow me to diversify and grow as the industry did. But, that was purely by luck. Given the chance I would have evaluated other career options before I even started in the nursing field. That said, nursing has so many options and opens so many career possibilities that, certainly from a career perspective, I know I made a good choice.

4. Was has been a big highlight in your career?

McKesson will be releasing a highly anticipated and exciting update to its highest rated Oncology EMR (according to Black Book Rankings 2/16), in the next couple of weeks.  One of the major changes implemented allows Dragon to more seamlessly work in the provider documentation space. Ultimately, this change will assist to make all Dragon users in the US Oncology network more efficient and is the building block for future enhancements; allowing for more hands-free interaction with the computer. This project was a year in the making, and I am proud to say that I was the person to initiate conversations and advise about the potential enhancement, coordinate between McKesson and Nuance, assist with the development, testing and soon, the implementation. It is so exciting and satisfying to see a simple concept be realized. Knowing that I was instrumental in enhancing the software that will soon be available to the largest Oncology network in the nation is humbling.

5. What advice do you have for other job seekers?

  • Always, ALWAYS, look for new opportunities.

  • Be prepared to write your own job description. Tell your leadership what you CAN do rather than waiting to be told what to do.

  • Know your value and BELIEVE it. Also, don't overvalue yourself. No one is irreplaceable.

  • Raise your hand and say ‘I’ll do it’! Take every opportunity to learn something new.

  • Keep networking and value the people, all the people, you network with. I try to remember the names and smile and interact with everyone I come in contact with. Working late? Get to know the Salvadorian EVS worker that works late too. You might find she is really funny and could share with you a great Salvadorian recipe.

  • Smile. Seriously! Smile. Say good morning. Get to know people. Get to know their roles and interact with them. Take every opportunity, including making friends with your colleagues, to learn and grow.

  • Find a mentor. This could be another consultant. This might be someone in leadership. If you want to grow, learn and be challenge, find a mentor that can help you make that happen. They can explain the hierarchy and the different roles in the company, introduce you to people, tell what's good (or more importantly, not good) in the cafe, or tell you where the best parking spot is.

  • Finally, and most important, have fun! I know this sounds so cliché. But seriously, don't be so serious all the time. When the opportunity arises. Laugh, laugh with, and be laughed at. We spend most of our adult lives working; away from our family and friends. So, have fun! Might as well.

6. Who has been your most inspiring manager?

This is a no-brainer for me. With no hesitation I can say, Francesca Biggart, who initially recruited me into McKesson.  She is the definition of a role model and mentor. As the Director of Clinical Applications, and my direct supervisor, Francesca became my mentor. I am fortunate to say that she still mentors me today, well after she has moved onto bigger and better things. Her mentoring has helped me to grow both professionally and personally. Francesca challenges her reports and she empowers them to  make decisions and trusts in their ability to make the right decision. For anyone open to learning and growing she will seek opportunities to both fill a company need and give her employees an opportunity to learn and grow. Francesca has a profound way of summarizing an entire conversation in a few key points (I hope I can learn that from her one day). She is quick to recognize and announce a job well done and equally as fast at notifying employees of opportunities for growth and improvement.  Francesca is the ultimate example of the difference between a MANAGER and a LEADER. I am forever improved, both professionally and personally, for having found such a leader and mentor.