Volunteering with LibreHealth EHR, an Open-Source Project

After graduating college with a computer science background, I faced a serious bout of imposter syndrome. Let me tell you, imposter syndrome is real. I didn’t think I was “good enough” to work in the world of computer software. I decided to take some time off. But no matter what I did, I couldn’t shake the idea of not working in the field of software. Thus, I started looking for an open-source project to help regain my confidence and to improve my tech skills.

This is how I discovered Outreachy, an organization that is committed to increasing diversity in tech by providing remote internships with free and open-source projects. As a woman of color aspiring to work in tech, I was so excited that I could possibly gain an internship through an organization that was dedicated to helping people like me. There were many different types of projects available, but I knew I wanted to work with one that aligned with my interests of health and tech. LibreHealth was one of the few health-tech organizations available, and it was the only health-tech organization that used web-based technologies that I was familiar with.

LibreHealth is an online community that is creating free and open-source Health IT software. They currently have three main projects: LibreHealth EHR (Electronic Health Records), LibreHealth Toolkit (LibreHealth software engine) and LibreHealth Radiology (for Imaging and Radiology practices). Although I was accepted as an Outreachy applicant, I wasn’t able to complete the second portion of the application. I had learned about the program too late in the process. This led me to becoming a volunteer with LibreHealth.

One of the great things about working with an open-source project is that you can connect with so many different people from around the world just by sitting in front of your computer. LibreHealth’s community is ultimately why I decided to stay and volunteer. I was welcomed from day one. Toni Shortsleeve, one of the co-mentors of the LibreHealth EHR documentation team, has taken me under her wing and has been supportive throughout my experience. The rest of the community is so knowledgeable and are open with helping one another when needed.

The only negative aspect I’ve encountered with volunteering on open-source project is finding time within my schedule to volunteer. Currently, I work as a pharmacy technician (in-training). (It’s a temporary job that I’ve gained many transferable skills from, such as communication and teamwork.) On my days off, in between family obligations and studying for the pharmacy technician exam, I try to work on LibreHealth-related assignments.

I am currently working on improving current and creating new documentation for the LibreHealth EHR project. Around the time I joined, there was a major software update to the LibreHealth EHR software. Most of my assignments so far have been to read through current docs regarding specific LibreHealth EHR functions, while testing these functions within the software to report any discrepancies or bugs. I have also been assigned to transcribe an instructional video regarding some of LibreHealth’s functionality, then turning it into a tutorial following the current documentation style.

While working on these assignments, I have learned that documentation is a continuous project. As software changes, documentation must also change. Although I enjoy working on documentation, my goal is to contribute code in addition to documentation. I cannot wait to see what I gain from this experience and hope to contribute as much as I can to this project!

Until next time.

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