Healthcare Generalists vs. Specialists

Posted on August 7, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The good people over at Healthcare IS have put together an interesting slide share discussing whether contractors should be generalists or specialists. You can see the slideshow embedded below:

I especially like the chart on slide 6 which shows the way a hiring manager looks at the skill profile of a possible hire. It makes a solid case for why it’s better for a contractor to specialize in one application as opposed to being a generalist that can work on all the various applications.

Of course, this is a great strategy if you choose an application that sticks around for a long time to come. However, if you’re a specialist on an EHR application that gets sunset, then you’re going to regret putting all of your eggs in one basket.

What does seem to hold true is that people who specialize get paid more. I just wonder if someone can specialize in a certain vertical category as opposed to specializing in a particular software application. If someone becomes an expert at implementing lab software across all the top lab software, that seems to be a different way to specialize, but not put your skills all in one vendors basket.

The other way to diversify your skill set is to focus on two major vendors. This way you still have deep expertise in both software systems, but you still have some diversification in case something goes south for a vendor.

The other thing to consider when thinking about being a generalist or a specialist is that most people enjoy being a generalist a lot more than being a specialist. As they say, “variety is the spice of life.” Certainly, there is a lot more to the decision of generalist vs specialist than just money. Although, I’m certain that every generalist who’s out of work would give up that “spice” for a paycheck.

Do you see this trend in your organizations? Do you want to hire the person who’s most specialized over someone who’s more of a generalist?