Mr. HIStalk posted a Q and A in his blog recently relating to the dilemma experienced by hospital IT employees with Epic certifications who want to seek employment in other hospitals or consulting companies. (see: Monday Morning Update 7/30/12). More details are provided below:
From Maryann: “Re: Epic. I work directly for a hospital that is implementing several Epic modules over the next 5-7 years. I have two Epic certifications. I applied to several consulting companies and each one told me that they couldn’t hire me if my hospital was in the middle of an Epic implementation because of an agreement with Epic. Is this legal? How long to I have to wait if I leave my hospital before a consulting company will hire me?”
Mr. HIStalk reply: Welcome to the murky world of Epic non-competes and recruitment restrictions. Epic controls your opportunities with potential employers via separate agreements and/or implied punishment for poaching Epic-certified people. Is their practice legal and binding? Almost certainly not, but you’d need a lot of lawyer money to find out, and by the time you got a ruling, you could have just sat out your time as an untouchable by working in a non-Epic role somewhere (I think it’s a two-year timeout, but it may just be a year … I seem to remember there was discussion about changing it.) Epic’s practices are designed specifically to thwart exactly what you want to do – use your short-term Epic experience and certification to bail out on your employer and cash in with a consulting firm. Even if you had the financial resources and extended timeline needed to mount a legal challenge, there’s still no guarantee that you’ll get hired, because legal or not, nobody wants to cross Judy for fear of choking their own particular gold egg-laying goose. Not to add more rain on your parade, I’m not sure you can even easily move to another Epic hospital, but I’ll let those who have first-hand experience explain how all of this works.
Epic and their hospital customers employ powerful tools to keep current IT personnel working on an Epic project from bailing out. According to Mr. HIStalk: Epic controls your opportunities with potential employers via separate agreements and/or implied punishment for poaching Epic-certified people. Both Epic and their hospital customers have a vested interest in keeping hospital IT personnel in their current jobs -- getting the system installed. This, of course, can work against the interests of the employee who, having been trained, may want to change cities or respond to an offer for higher pay. Also and for many hospitals, an install can go on for a prolonged period of time.
Some of this sounds a little fishy to me. For example, where are the consulting firms that are feeding at the Epic trough recruiting all of their numerous personnel? One option is for them to train some of their current employees on Epic and then have them certified. Some of this training could occur on current Epic jobs. Another approach would be to poach former hospital IT personnel after the expiration of the non-compete wait time -- one or two years. However, I bet that there is a lot of "wink-winks" going on because there is so much money at stake.
Here's some advice from a former Epic employee stating explicitly why working for a consulting firm is superior to working with Epic (see: Life After Epic). The one reference to non-compete (see below) deals only with the non-compete policy of the consulting firm to which one is applying for a position:
Before signing anything ask about their non-compete agreement. Most (reputable) companies will say that you can't work for the same client through any other consulting companies. However a couple of shady ones say you can't work for any of their clients through any other company. Don't sign with them.