IS Senior Analyst
Rush University Medical Center
As one of three daughters growing up on a farm in central Illinois, Connie Weissman’s father made sure she understood how the family made their living. Connie connected the dots all the way from the spring planting to the grain elevator delivery to the check in the bank to the shoes on her and her sisters’ feet. She told us this holistic view came in handy years later in her IT work, explaining with a chuckle that “We IT people love our details.” Connie laments that our education system pushes specialization, building valuable technical skills that unfortunately often come at the expense of understanding the critical big picture.
Connie credits an early opportunity to provide IT support to surgical nurses for reinforcing the importance of understanding the big picture in her adult career. As the self-described “computer chick for nurses”, her work drove her to the hospital floor to understand what the nurses needed. Once there, she realized she was seeing and learning things that would enable her to make a much bigger impact, things she never would have picked up at her desk in the IT department. Her role in the hospital’s mission became crystal clear to her and she realized that figuring it out wasn’t any more complicated than figuring out her role on the family farm. She advises to simply “Follow the money to understand the end game and big picture goal.”
In a hospital setting, everything ties to helping the patient. It’s easy for doctors and nurses to see how they fit into this picture, but the connection is often less obvious in support staff roles. Connie “follows the money” to connect her shared service role to the mission. “We’re a hospital. Patients (our clients) come to us for care. The clinicians (my users) care for the patients. I support my users to care for the clients. The clients pay for the care and the hospital can pay me.” Connie explains that once you understand this, everything fits and makes sense, whether it is the library providing materials to the medical students, the cleaning people keeping the NICU spotless, the internal research board reviewing investigational study requests, or IT developing software to stabilize blood glucose levels.
Connie challenges herself and others to maintain focus on the end game. She even schedules field trips for her IT colleagues to go to the hospital floor and see firsthand how the technology they develop and support is used. Once there, they develop a deeper understanding of the patient and clinician needs. She recounts one field trip to the neonatal ward where they saw the fetal monitoring technology in action. She inspired her colleagues by pointing to a patient and connecting the dots, explaining that “Our stuff really needs to work!” This transformed their late night hours in front of the computer screen from a cog in the wheel to an active role in saving lives.
Challenge yourself to take a step back and figure out exactly how your role ties into the end game and big picture goal. Write it down or draw a picture. Keep it simple. If you need more than a few sentences, you may not have a clear enough view. Connecting your job to the mission not only improves performance but provides a sense of purpose and can greatly increase your personal satisfaction.
Connie Weissman is an IS Senior Analyst in the IT department at Rush University Medical Center, where she integrates systems to support clinicians’ efficient and effective patient care. Connie is a CPA.CIPT which means that after earning her CPA she pursued an additional Certified Information Technology Professional designation. She has a BS in Secondary Education and an MS in Health Systems Management. Whether Connie is supporting clinical nursing at Rush, working as Treasurer and Webmaster for the local League of Women Voters, or presenting personal finance clinics to residents, she makes sure she understands the big picture and how she fits in.