As a career choice, the role of healthcare CIO has become more challenging—and more rewarding.
“It has definitely evolved over the past decade,” says George McCulloch Jr., the Executive Vice President for Professional Development and Membership at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME).
McCulloch, himself a former hospital IT executive, says the job is increasingly about senior leadership and managing people. “Understanding technology is just one part of it,” he says.
CHIME’s mission is the professional development of healthcare IT executives, and the organization administers its own certification program (CHCIO) recognizing the diverse skills required of senior IT leaders.
How to Become CHCIO Certified
CHCIO certification, according to CHIME’s website, “demonstrates the commitment, knowledge and experience required to master the core skills inherent to successful healthcare CIOs and IT executives.”
To qualify for the exam, health IT executives must:
- Be a CHIME member
- Be the highest-ranking IT executive in their organization
- Possess a baccalaureate degree
The exam itself is 125 questions, all of which are written by healthcare CIOs for healthcare CIOs, says McCulloch, and the test covers a range of leadership scenarios critical for executive success. “The exam is as broad as the CIO role itself,” he says.
The test can be taken online at CHIME-partner testing centers or at exams administered in conjunction with CHIME events, such as its CIO Boot Camp, held three times yearly.
Individuals who pass the exam must maintain their certification by completing continuing education programs annually, at least half of which must be from CHIME.
A Valued Credential
McCulloch calls the certification “recognition of a CIO’s commitment to lifelong learning.” He adds that hiring managers and recruiters are “asking if candidates have it. They view (CHCIO status) as a distinction in the industry.”
Tonguc Yaman, a newly hired CIO at Advocate Community Partners, seems to agree that certification is an asset in job hunting. “I’m convinced that the CHCIO designation bolstered me through the selection process and made it possible for me to negotiate a contract with which I am greatly satisfied,” wrote Yaman in a recent blog post.
He also credits the CHIME-sponsored CIO Boot Camp with preparing him for the CHCIO exam. “The study materials were excellent and had direct application to many of the questions on the exam. And because the exam is a test not only of reading-acquired knowledge but also real-world leadership experience as a CIO, the Boot Camp’s problem-solving exercises were invaluable in helping me achieve my CHCIO designation successfully."