Guide to Successfully Working as a Consultant in the Healthcare IT Industry – Part One

If you missed my Intro blog post to this series, here’s the link.

First let me say that there is a difference between consulting and staff augmentation (contracting).  For the sake of this guide, I am not going to spend time differentiating between the two.  For this guide, I am going to define consulting around your ability to provide a service to an organization on a short term basis.  As for short term, I mean you can work for the organization without being a Full Time Employee of that organization.  As for a defined timeline, I am referring to projects that will, in 85% of the cases, last somewhere between 3 months to one year.

So why do most people who get into this type of a career path decide to get into it?  If you find that you are personally considering some of the things I list below, then maybe this is a path you should consider.

I have found over the years that people turn to consulting for one of four main reasons:

  1. Lack of other career opportunities in their local market
  2. Do more of what you love doing
  3. Make more money
  4. Have more time for other things

Let me elaborate on each a bit…

Lack of other career opportunities in their local market

If you work for a provider I.T. organization or Informatics department, then most likely the skills and knowledge you have would be of most value to similar organizations.  For most people, they live in an area where there are only a few other provider organizations that could possibly employee them.  So, many people seriously consider consulting, with weekly travel as a better option than relocating for another job.

Do more of what you love

A few years ago, when an employee of a provider organization participated in a new project like a major application upgrade or implementation, that employee was provided with a level of job satisfaction that they typically did not experience when they were primarily in a day to day support role.  When an organization completes the major project without another major initiative on the horizon, it is common for people to consider other career options that would present the opportunity to be a part of another major project.  Consulting can offer that option.  Recently though, this is becoming less of an issue for many people.  With the amount of projects that are taking place within healthcare organization to achieve “meaningful use,” many people are getting a higher level of job satisfaction at their current organization.

Make more money

Consulting offers higher levels of compensation when compared to the compensation that is offered by the average healthcare organization.  This higher compensation is offered for skills that are in high demand because:

  1. The person will only be used on a short term basis.
  2. There is a premium that is paid by the marketplace to someone who is required to travel on a weekly basis.  This travel is something that has to be seriously looked at is the number one reason why more people do not get into consulting.

Have more time for other things

As an “independent contractor” working through a consulting firm or staff augmentation firm, you are paid on an hourly basis.  In order to have more free time, many people are opting for a higher hourly rate for a limited period of time. Then with the extra money that has been made, you can take time off in between engagements to spend time on other things.  If your skills are in high enough demand, and you are heavily networked so that you can find new projects in a timely manner, you  can make the same amount of money working eight months as a consultant that you would working twelve months as a full time employee. For many people, this additional time off to spend on other things is as important as money made in a year.

In closing, consulting certainly is not for everyone.  There are some additional pros and cons that I will discuss in the upcoming posts.  But evaluating what I have listed above can give you an indication of whether further consideration to this profession should be given.  As always, I am happy to answer your questions – feel free to ask in the comment section below.

About the author

Avatar

David Kushan

David Kushan is the President of Healthcare IS and has spent the last 18 years of his career working in the Healthcare Information Technology industry assisting over 120 healthcare organizations nationwide. Visit www.HealthcareIS.com for Dave’s company blog, articles, podcasts and more.

4 Comments

  • David, I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of this series, as your timing couldn’t be more perfect for me. I’ve recently finished up an EHR implementation internship, and the clinic offered me a contracting position after I finished.

    Right now I’m helping them with continued EHR support and additional general IT support as they’ve been operating without any IT professionals up until I came in.

    I was going to try and find an implementation manager position with an EHR vendor after my schooling, but I’ve always wanted to run my own business, and now that seems like the logical next step. I’m really enjoying some of the benefits you outlined of being contracted instead of being an employee. It feels like what I’ve always wanted to do, without knowing it was what I wanted.

    I’ve got the implementation and support experience, but am new to the Medical IT field and running my own business. I think I’ll be learning a lot from this series. So, please keep these posts coming.

  • Great post David! I have never really thought about the reasons that people choose consulting, but you nailed the top 4! I would say a close 5 is that they follow the lead of others that they have worked with in the past that have chosen consulting and work hard to recruit them.

  • JeramyS, I hope the series provides you value during your transition.

    Joe, Thanks for addition of the close #5. Excellent point. I will have to add that to the list!

Click here to post a comment
   

Categories