Earlier this week I received an alarming email from a consultant that I placed on contract numerous times back in my staffing agency days. Her email was lamenting that she had let her Epic certification lapse and was inquiring about what she should do. After recovering from my initial outrage (read more about that below), I realized that a quick list of consultant responsibilities outside of direct-at-the-client work seems necessary. Therefore, please find below three important tasks a consultant should have on lockdown.
I seriously thought this was a no-brainer. If you are an Epic consultant and particularly one that is a w-2 contractor and switches staffing agencies or consulting firms often, you are responsible for maintaining your Epic certification and completing your New Version Trainings (NVTs)! Tracking this is not your firm’s responsibility. I was flabbergasted that her certification had lapsed when completing NVTs is a straightforward, online process. If you are an Epic consultant, it is industry standard that you are certified in your module of expertise, therefore, you have proverbial skin in this game. If you’re not certified, many hospitals will not engage you as a consultant especially since the market has softened and they have many options.
This rule applies to all industry certifications, too, not just Epic ones. PMP, CPHIMS, RHIA, etc. are your responsibility.
Time and Expenses Management
Get your time and expenses (T&E) in on time! Administrative tasks are cumbersome, I get it; I fill out T&E reports every two weeks, too. However, delays in T&E reports often result in invoicing delays and later payment from clients. If you think filling out a T&E report is burdensome, imagine how unwieldy reconciling receipts and producing invoices for 180 people can be? Don’t be that person that delays an invoice for a 30-person implementation team getting out the door to a client. If your firm says, you don’t get reimbursed until your T&Es are submitted, I sure wouldn’t blame them.
Stay until Your End Date
A general rule that I believe every Healthcare IT consultant should follow is staying until your contract end date. If you sign a Statement of Work (SOW) saying you will be with a client until a certain date, honor that commitment. It is very important to maintain a good reputation in our industry as we say all the time, “health IT is a small world!” If you consistently leave contracts early, word will get around. Also, if you leave a contract early while at a firm, there is a good chance that firm will not ever hire you back.
“But the travel sucks.” Too bad. Surely there was plenty of time to research flights before you signed your SOW.
“But I have an opportunity to remain local.” Too bad. See above.
“The client wants to extend me, but I don’t want to extend. Can I leave then?” Ding! Ding! Ding! Yes! If you are offered an extension you are under no obligation to accept it and the SOW end date is the appropriate time to leave.
“But what if I really hate it?” That’s when you need to get your firm involved to work through whatever issue is happening. It’s important to make every effort to make your contract work out.
Have fun out there consultants and behave yourselves!