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Optimum’s Executive Interview Series – Brenda Ashley

Welcome back to Optimum Healthcare IT’s “4 Questions with…” series, where we interview top executives in the Healthcare IT space. We search for the leaders with track records of service excellence, who are passionate about their work and make patient safety their top priority. In this installment, we speak with Optimum Healthcare IT’s new Vice President of Optimum CareerPath, Brenda Ashley.

OHIT: Tell us a little about yourself and your career in Healthcare IT? How did you get into the field?

Brenda Ashley: I am married and have an 11-year-old son and two mixed-breed dogs. We all live in the cold north of Minneapolis/St. Paul although I am originally from even further north in Duluth/Superior. I am an RN and have been working in Healthcare for 20 years. My first experience with Epic was as an end-user working at a clinic that went live with Cadence, Prelude, and Resolute way back in 2002. Soon after I joined the project team as they began to roll out the Epic ambulatory module to clinics around the region. My career has progressed up the ranks over the years from training to an analyst, project management, and eventually program leadership roles.  I have been in the consulting arena since 2006. I can honestly say that I feel like I fell into the field accidentally way back in 2002 but I can also remember thinking that EHRs were the wave of the future back then. I’d attribute my career success to this initial luck combined with the confidence to take the right steps at the right times.

OHIT: You joined Optimum in July as Vice President of Optimum CareerPath. Can you discuss what CareerPath is?

Brenda Ashley: Optimum CareerPath to me is basically taking the luck I experienced out of the mix and allowing college grads to create their own career path.  My goal is to find smart individuals with the aptitude to excel in Healthcare IT and arm them with the technical skills needed for these roles as well as the real-world experience it takes to succeed once out on the job. As someone who also has the perspective of a hiring manager on various projects, I can understand the needs of our clients and ensure those needs are reflected in this training program.

OHIT: If there was a program like Optimum CareerPath when you first got into Healthcare IT, do you think you would have had an easier time?

Brenda Ashley: I definitely think I would have had an easier time early in my career with a program like this.  I went through plenty of personal trial and error while figuring out my path to success and am excited to share this with the next generation of Healthcare IT analysts.

OHIT: What is the desired outcome of the Optimum CareerPath program?

Brenda Ashley: Graduates of Optimum CareerPath will be uniquely qualified to provide analyst services at a level not seen in entry-level employees. Through our 12-week program, we prepare them with knowledge and experience equivalent to approximately a year of work history. After this 12 weeks is completed we then place these graduates on client projects to continue gaining more experience while also giving the clients a “try before you buy” situation of sorts. When the 2-year commitment is completed the clients are able to convert them to full-time equivalent employees. By this point in time, they are more like 3-5 year experienced analysts vs. the actual 2 years of experience they have due not only the 12-week training program but also the continued support they will receive from seasoned Optimum Healthcare IT consultants along the way.

Optimum Healthcare IT has launched Optimum CareerPath, forming partnerships across the country to create career pathways between college students and the healthcare industry. This program bridges the industry’s skill gap by providing employer-focused technical and soft skills necessary for entry into the workplace. Learn more about this program here!

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Larry Kaiser

Chief Marketing Officer

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