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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Regarding the Quality Assurance Role

For some reason, I'm unable to reply to comments that readers have left. I've gotten a couple comments lately about the role of QAer. I've published those comments on the correct pages (links open in new window). Consider this the response to both comments.

QAers do get certified. The only roles at Epic that don't begin with certification starting at week 2 are Culinary and Facilities/Maintenance.

There's nothing stopping an ex-QAer from consulting after leaving Epic. As long as you can sell your experience and nail the interviews, you'll be fine and well on your way to making 2-3 times what you will make at Epic.

To that end, highlight your build experience. As a QAer, you'll be building a lot of records as you test new functionality. Highlight your troubleshooting capabilities--you'll be expected to do some light troubleshooting as you test, but the harder issues you'll just send back to the developer to fix. Be honest about what you can troubleshoot. Interviewers are generally more interested in hearing that you know problem solving techniques than that you know the exact steps to go through to fix something.

Go on as many go-lives as you can talk your TL in to. Face time with end users has provided some of my best answers to interview questions.

Unfortunately, my experience is more closely tied to Technical Services and Implementation than to Quality Assurance. I can't provide more direct feedback, but as a general rule, sell your soft skills (the other stuff that isn't necessarily Epic-application specific) and you'll be fine.


  1. I am interested in applying for QA/SW tester role. I am 35 year old, with relevant Masters degree (GPA 3.11), BS (GPA: 3.5) but I read that "anybody above 25 years will not stand chance, as they want young people" and "they don't want masters...only bachelors" and "min GPA 3.4".
    How true are the "quotes"?

  2. A lot of folks get hired with Master's degrees, or at least they did when I was there. As for 35 year olds...it may be different with QAers, but I felt pretty old compared to my peers when I was hired, and I was only 24.

    I can't speak to the GPA part; maybe someone else can shed light on that.

    You can try applying for the position, but set your expectations low. Epic's age discrimination practices will be a major obstacle.

    Depending on where you're located, I know of some other, non-healthcare-related QA/SW tester positions that are open.

  3. Question regarding certification from QA/SW Tester role: So how does Certification work for QA/SW role? I understand that you do NOT have direct experience from this position...but any insights you can offer? What certification can this role attempt for? Does one get a choice...Is access to certification is JUST LIMITED TO your desire to learn/attempt as many as you want to??
    Also, I am hoping that this question is addressed by somebody who is/was in QA/SQ role, as well.

    1. Certification works the same for everyone--your first task after finishing orientation will be getting certified. The inital application is Epic's choice, and I don't know how they decide who goes into what app.

      Any additional certifications will be what you can sell to your TL--at least, that's how it was for me and I assume that's pretty standard. As a TS, I was able to get certified in a lot of apps with the same line: "My customer is having trouble with . I need to learn how works so I can understand the workflow that is causing the problem.

      That line probably won't work for QAers, but you can usually work a certification in around Christmas or Thanksgiving, when most folks are on vacation and nothing much else is going on.

    2. For QAers, it is easiest to get certified in integrated apps based on what you test. For example, when I was on Ambulatory, I tested Results, so I got certified in Beaker to understand and test key integration points. I also got certified in Cadence because it was necessary for Ambulatory go-live support (which is required for QAers).

      I became the Pediatric owner as well, and therefore got certified in Stork to help with that project.

      It actually allows us to have a very in depth knowledge of very integrated points in Epic, rather than what IS/TS seem to have, which is a random array of apps based on their customer needs (not that that's bad, just different).

    3. As a potential QA/Software Tester - who is worried about his future and wants to be a consultant, is it thus good advice to

      1) Convince TLs to allow you to get certified in everything relevant that you can (do you always have to ask permission or could you get certified in your spare time?)

      2) Try to go to a few go-lives for experience. As many as you can, optimally.

      3) Sell your build experience and certifications super hard.

      Am I missing something? Does this seem like a good plan for this aspiring consultant? Or am I doomed?

    4. That's pretty much it, exactly. The experience from go lives gives great answers for interview questions.

  4. I would like to hear some insights of how a career in Epic as a developer or a QR tester will affect his future in IT industry.. Especially in development field.. I am just 22.. And its like i don't have a go but to work as a developer or a QAT at EPIC.. Am okay with the initial pay.. But what am scared of is the language they use at EPIC.. MUMPS gives me chills as i am a OOP dev and have no idea of how am gonna work with such a language.. Even if i can't take the pressure and i quit may be after 2 years when my non-compete gets over, the 2 year exp will not get added up cuz of the language.. Am i taking a big risk? Should i try something else?? May be wait till i get a better job?? I need some serious advice!!

    Thanx in advance..

    1. They don't expect anyone to come to Epic knowing how to program MUMPS. Developers will get a 3 week course (data from >5 years ago) in MUMPS, a 3 week course in Visual Basic, and then they'll know what they need to know.

      I took C++ Java courses at school, and Epic hired me with no other programming experience. If you've got the grades and the GPA, they'll hire you.

      As for transferable experience, with anything, you have to tailor your resume to the job you're applying for. You'll learn how to work with a large, integrated software system; you'll learn how to check items out of the code stream, perform isolated testing, check stuff back into the code stream, etc. The language may be archaic and unused by most of the world, but the processes and thinking skills can be used anywhere.

      I tell people that Epic is a terrible place to work, but a wonderful place to have worked at.