Great site. I’m a recently Epic-certified informatics pharmacist currently engaged in Willow build in an Epic implementation, set for go live in April. I have 6+ years experience as an informatics pharmacist.
Post go live, my current position in the pharmacy department will likely be phased out (the org will retain my manager, an Epic certified pharmacist) and if I’m able, I will be offered to transition to the health system’s IT department, where Epic build, I’m told, will only be done there (no longer will system build be done by pharmacy department personnel).
Recently, a Willow analyst position in the IT department was posted but it does not require the candidate to be a pharmacist. Do you think this model can work? I’ve been encouraged to apply, but based on the job classification, it looks like the annual salary for this position would be $40,000 to $50,000 less than my current salary. We’re meeting with pharmacy management on this issue this week and I could use some advice on what course to take.
I see Willow pharmacist positions on the outside that pay what I’m worth, but I wonder how rare they are, given the business option to use a non-RPh Willow analyst instead. I’d much rather stay in the health system I’m in, but at a pharmacist’s salary. Any insight and advice is appreciated.
Thank you for your question. I understand exactly what you’re going through. My organization fortunately had the foresight to reserve some willow positions as pharmacist-only because there are some clinical components of Epic Willow maintenance that would not be well-suited for a non-clinician, and especiallynot for a non-pharmacist.
The bad news is that if your organization does not decide to have any of these (though you could make the argument in your upcoming meeting that having pharmacists is essential post go-live) there will definitely be issues down the road for the non-RPh that will be responsible for making updates and maintaining the software. It’s hard to put into words all the possible scenarios that will be encountered but I guarantee you that they will arise.
The good news is that now post-COVID, many organizations around the world are hiring licensed pharmacist Epic Willow analysts and MANY of these positions are fully remote. Some are partially remote and many are open to negotiating how much remote work they will allow. The nature of what we do is well-suited for remote work, especially if the organization is primarily in the maintenance stage. LinkedIn is a great place to start looking and putting yourself out on. I’ve found that just having the terms “Epic Willow” and “pharmacist” seem to trigger the LinkedIn algorithm to alert Epic recruiters to reach out to you so you won’t have to do much heavy lifting, pretty much just sift through offers from recruiters for what suits you best.
Alternatively, there are organizations that specialize in placing Epic analysts in consulting positions (they do this for free but take a cut of your pay).
Best of all, the pay with these two options is much better than most employers offer (of course, you will be a 1099 contractor and responsible for paying your own taxes but a good accountant can show you how to minimize those since you will be working from your own home office).
I hope you are not discouraged about possibly having to leave your current organization or return to clinical practice but hopefully, these alternative options give you some good food for thought. I’d love to hear how things pan out if you’d like to share.
Hi Dani, this is Chris again.
Thanks for all the great advice. I have good news: my health system transitioned us all as pharmacist analysts to the central IT group’s Willow team. We have one non-pharmacist on the team as well.
We’re now down to just 3 consultants, almost 4 months post go live. Things are going quite well. Still lots to learn.
Thanks again for providing advice and support when I really needed it. This is an awesome site you have.
Congratulations! That’s great news and I’m so glad to hear it! I hardly get follow-ups here after questions are answered and I often wonder about the final outcome so hearing that things worked out well for you (and I do recall the situation when you asked your question months ago) is wonderful!
I’ll tell you this… The learning never stops, so brace yourself, but it’s very fulfilling and each time you get a new skill under your belt, you’ll feel very accomplished.
Feel free to drop by anytime with updates! 🙂