So if you look over to the left on my blog, you'll note that I have four characters listed. I actually have way more toons, as I have a history of being a little alt addicted. The four characters listed to the left, however, are part of my personal project to have a healer of every class.
This idea was prompted by the fact that during our alliance raids, I usually assign heals (when it's needed - many of our healers don't really need assignments). As I started looking details up about different healing spells used by different classes, it occurred to me that I take the responsibility of assigning heals very seriously. Also, I don't really assign heals as much as organize them. But in order to do even that task well, you really do need to have a basic fundamental understanding of each healing class. Even just knowing the basics (AoE - holy priest, shammy, druid, Single target - Pally, disc priest) helps, but I really want to master the art of healing in WoW. I want to be able to give advice to another healer about which abilities to use when. It's not some egotistical thing where I want to have the ultimate power.
I enjoy playing a healing priest so much, why wouldn't I enjoy trying out the other healing classes? It seems as good a reason as any to pick one class over another for an alt. I already had a fairly high level pally, Elimeny (my original main). And now that Jessabelle was 80, exalted with all the main factions, maxed out professions, progressing steadily through raids, and with plenty of gold to line her pockets, it seemed like as good a time as any to start leveling some healing alts.
So I started by using some of my extra Emblems of Heroism to pick up the Heirloom plate shoulders that give a 10% bonus to xp while leveling for my pally. Once I had a few more extra emblems, I bought the nice heirloom healing mace. I started by maxing out my Pally - before WotLK came out, she was already level 69, so I set her to work running a few instances to pop up a couple of levels. After level 75, however, she leveled almost purely through dailies. By the time she hit 80, she had a pretty decent reputation start with several factions, which allowed her to pick up a couple of nice items.
Unfortunately, those heirloom plate shoulders won't do much good for a druid or shammy, so in the meantime, I'm saving up my emblems of heroism to buy some new heirloom XP shoulders for my two low level healer alts. I have a nice healing mace that I can swap between both of them when needed, but for the most part, I'm speccing them for leveling efficiency. Once I get them to higher levels, I'll worry about speccing them more specifically for healing.
Lessons learned so far? The biggest one that I've had to overcome with having just two high level healers: Retraining muscle memory. I use healbot while raiding, and I don't even have to think anymore about what mouse/key combination to hit for each spell on my priest. Keep in mind, also, Priests have quite a few different healing spells. I have roughly ten different combinations that my fingers needed to memorize on healbot. Therefore, using the same combinations for different spells for my Pally took a lot of retraining. I had to carefully choose my key combinations, so that Divine Sacrifice was not tied to the same combination used for Flash Heal on my priest!
After much tweaking, I assigned similar spells to each combination. Thus, flash heal = flash of light, Holy Light = Greater Healing, Holy Shock = Renew, Divine Shield = Sacred Shield, and Lay on Hands = Guardian Spirit, among others. This has helped tremendously, and as I (very slowly) level my other healing alts, and add more healing spells to their repertoire, I'm trying to use a similar philosophy.
The best part about having alts that are healers is that I can bring my alts to a raid with no real complaint. While Jessabelle is undoubtedly the best geared, if we are doing an easier raid, there is rarely any issue with me bringing Elimeny instead. Replacing a healer with another healer is usually not a problem. In our alliance we seem to have quite a few Pally healers, whereas Jessabelle is one of the few priest healers, however, so usually I'm bringing her anyway. But, whereas before I really was not interested in doing 10 man Naxx or any heroics, despite how much my guild or alliance mates begged me, now I have new momentum - a new character to gear and learn that still fills the same role everyone expects from me.
I am really looking forward to the day when our alliance can have a choice of healer classes, and not just be desperate for any type of healer. If I have an assortment of four different types of healers, then we have at least one healer who can switch off and fulfill any particular healing role. While some people who do not really understand the strengths and weaknesses of different healers may think it is a moot point, as we progress in our raids, it becomes even more important to have a few choices of healing classes.