Editor’s note: This blog was published when Jennifer (Laughlin) Mueller was the Vice President of Chief Information Officer at Watertown Regional Medical Center. Since then, she has taken on the role of Vice President and Privacy Officer at Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center.
Promotions. Most people want one, but it takes time, persistence and the ability to show your superiors that you’re their “go-to” person to get the job done. But that’s not all. Being eligible for a promotion also comes with being able to grow your skill set, no matter what field you’re in.
Jennifer (Laughlin) Mueller, the Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Watertown Regional Medical Center, knows firsthand what the combination of hard work and educational advancement can do for your career in the health information management and technology field (HIMT).
“Don’t be afraid to get out there and volunteer for different projects, even volunteer to lead different projects,” Laughlin said. “Have a lot of attention to detail and follow-through.”
Laughlin started with Watertown in 1999, just as the organization was transferring its medical records to an electronic format. Her background in health information management allowed her to hit the ground running, working on teams that focused on getting physician buy-in to the new system. Laughlin decided she wanted to progress her work to manage information in an organization that would include health information management, IS departments and medical staff, so she went back to school and earned her MBA in 2005.
“I was fortunate enough that the organization I was working for felt that having a chief information officer was critical to them moving forward in the information age, so I was lucky enough to get that job,” Laughlin said.
Laughlin says her climb up the ladder is not uncommon, but it takes planning and work. She emphasizes the importance of not only understanding medical records and healthcare information departments, but also understanding healthcare in general. Where it is going and how your organization is moving forward with the emphasis on technology and information management.
“A person in an organization that is interested in a promotion or being considered for a promotion needs to be visible, and visible in a positive way,” Laughlin said. “What projects have they participated in and done a great job leading, being organized, attention to detail and having that follow-through, so when an opportunity presents itself, like when someone is retiring, would you like to take on the responsibility of this department. They look to your because you’re dependable, you’re credible, you have that knowledge.”
As the health information management technology field continues to expand and opportunities for career advancement and job placement grow, Laughlin says individuals need to take the initiative and advance with the technology and knowledge surrounding the field.
“My biggest wish for professionals coming out of school is just don’t be satisfied with what you learn in school and taking that first job and staying there,” Laughlin said. “Always be looking at where the ball is going next and go there.”
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