Sue Schade's passion-one of them, anyway-is figuring out what it takes to keep health I.T. workers happy, productive, engaged and growing. Her Twitter tagline is "Committed to mentoring and developing next generation of HIT leaders."

She came to the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers about a year ago from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston specifically because U of M was in the middle of implementing a new Epic EHR. She wanted to be part of that massive institutional transformation. "I was looking for one more big jump in my career," she says. "I'd accomplished a lot at Brigham, and I wanted to see what change I'd be able to make here." After getting settled and taking the measure of her new organization, her first order of business was to find out what her 625 employees wanted and needed. An online survey this summer yielded an unheard-of 90 percent response, and a clear call for recognition, money, and opportunities for professional development and advancement. Below, Schade talks about molding a workforce that's ready for rapid change.

On teamwork

I can't talk teamwork enough to my folks. We're going through a tremendous amount of change as we implement Epic. A lot of people got hired in and moved over, while others are working with legacy systems that will get replaced. They say, "I'm not on the bright new shiny thing, so what about me?" That affects how well teams work together. It's easy to have silos, where people work on something and then just throw it over the wall. I am constantly trying to break those walls down.

On retraining

One of the questions we asked was whether people are getting the training they need, and we have a lot of room for improvement there. We've set up a team to work on department-wide training and development. We have plenty of work to do, and I want to encourage people to learn new skills and figure out what they're interested in doing. We have a lot of internally developed systems and we have to retain people on those long enough to get through the conversion. We can't just hire temporary staff from contract houses to take care of those legacy systems.

On interns

We had 25 paid interns working in support roles with the Epic go-live that we had this summer. It was a great experience for them and a less costly approach for us. Next year we may hire 100 interns. I think that once you have kids of your own and you see their talent, energy and enthusiasm, and you're in a leadership role, you realize that we need to be developing that next generation.

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