How I do miss The West Wing, one of NBC’s best dramas that aired between 1999 and 2006; let me count the ways. It was a favorite of mine for being bold, intelligent and quick-witted. Especially this scene in which Leo describes a position paper to his daughter, “it’s opposition prep; when we’re gearing up for a debate we have the smart guys take the other side.” What does this have to do with Healthcare IT consulting?
At Impact Advisors, we often hear that our clients are struggling to fill critical positions on their hospital IT teams. Projects are delayed due to lack of staff and they are challenged to attract top talent. As a Recruiter for Impact Advisors, I often talk to candidates about the perks of consulting; therefore, here is my opposition paper in favor of hospital-based employment because after all, I’m one of our smart guys, well, smart lady actually.
Airports – Traveling for business sounds so glamorous a la George Clooney in Up in the Air; however it’s actually dreadful. Imagine the worst airport experience you’ve ever had, be it stuck in a security line behind five strollers, seated next to an air sick passenger, or eating the last salad from the airport deli and wondering if the pale cube is ham or a crouton. Now, multiply the chances of that happening by 20 because a consultant travels upwards of 48 weeks a year making her fly 96 times. Almost 100 flights in a year and until you build up your preferred status you’ll be stuck in Coach.
And, don’t forget about winter travel delays. One of our consultants actually slept in the airport last year during the Atlanta snowstorm when all the hotels were booked. That surely makes sleeping in your own bed every night sound pretty good.
Flexibility – Soccer games, Kindergarten graduations, and class field trips are all out of the question when consultants are required at the client site Monday through Thursday. What sounds flexible (“three day weekends!”) really isn’t from the road.
The Hustle – Even when consultants are employed full time by a consulting firm there is still an element of what I call “the hustle,” meaning that consultants are constantly competing for a new job. It is common for clients to require interviews before accepting a consultant to their project(s). Therefore every six to 18 months a consultant may be interviewing for a new contract without actually changing employers. Variety may be the spice of life, but it can be stressful to interview, get to know a new client (think politics), execute the highest quality deliverables, travel away from your support system, and then do it all over again every six months.
There you have it, a few of the disadvantages of consulting. Though remember, this is my opposition paper and you can reach me via the Comments below for my real position.