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Thursday, March 30, 2023

How to Get into Healthcare Consulting as a Career

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Consulting is the practice of providing expert third-party analysis, advice, and often implementation services for a fee. Healthcare consulting has a crucial role in the mammoth $2.9 trillion and growing healthcare industry. Healthcare consultants deliver services to many organizations in the healthcare sector ranging from hospitals and clinics to pharmacies and manufacturers of medical devices. Their work can include many functional areas including administration, finance, customer service, patient management, records, information systems and more. Desired outcomes often include improving processes, lowering costs and improving patient care.

Is Healthcare Consulting a Good Career?

A good career is one that offers quality jobs and professional growth, occupational satisfaction and good compensation. Healthcare consulting meets all these measures very strongly.

Healthcare consulting is a $20 billion industry and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that it will grow 20 percent by 2026. This supports the healthcare industry that has become the largest employer in the United States. Growth for the healthcare market is driven by an aging population and the rise of chronic diseases such as heart problems, cancer, diabetes and dementia. 

In the broad consulting industry, there are three primary categories of consulting operations:

  1. Management consulting, which can include the areas of strategy, operations, IT/Technology, human resources, risk and compliance, finance and accounting, and taxation.
  2. Corporate consulting, which can apply to in-house consulting services, helping customers with implementation of the company’s products or services. It can also apply to smaller consulting firms that work with businesses to address specific challenges.
  3. Independent consultants. These are individuals who set up their own consulting businesses to offer consulting services centered in their own areas of expertise.

What Does Healthcare Consulting Pay?

Consulting is a broad industry with applications in many different economic sectors. Popular consulting niches include IT, management, business, environmental, marketing, financial, image, social media, software, and of course, healthcare. Healthcare consultants have specific expertise and focus on the healthcare industry with clients who are often large and complex. According to consulting dot com, the average salary for a healthcare consultant is $76,000.

According to ZipRecruiter, a popular jobs website, the annual salary is $68,801 with pay ranging as high as $169,000.

Meanwhile, PayScale indicates that the average salary is $77,332, noting that there are often bonuses, commissions and profit-sharing involved. 

While these general figures show that this is a lucrative career field with thousands of job opportunities, it should also be noted that opportunities and pay will vary based on job location and years of experience.

How do You Get Started?

Consulting roles are in high demand, so it is important to prepare well to capture a career opportunity in this crucial and vibrant industry. Whether it’s hospital revenue cycle management or a healthcare provider looking to make supply chain improvements, there are plenty of ways to prepare yourself for the ideal career:

  1. First, it is essential to become equipped with the necessary education and knowledge appropriate for consulting. Critical curriculum areas include communications, management, leadership, and problem-solving. A Bachelor’s degree is an essential requirement; a Master’s degree will be a definite advantage. A direct line to a healthcare career can be a bachelor’s degree in or focused on healthcare practice management, although degrees focused on business management, finance, economics, human resources and operations management can provide appropriate educational backgrounds.
  2. Build and practice the core skills that will be used daily in a consulting role. These skills include good judgment, time management, being a team player, listening skills, and communication skills.
  3. Prepare a strong and compelling resume along with a stand-out cover letter.
  4. Become acquainted with the process of pursuing a professional consulting career. That will include being prepared to interview and answer questions well.
  5. Find a good mentor in the consulting industry, someone with extensive experience, knowledge and insights on the industry, and seek their advice on strategies and approaches to land your desired position.
  6. Find and network with people in the consulting industry. Build acquaintances and allies that you can call on for support and information. Then, return the benefit of your progress and learning back to them.
  7. Look for a consulting internship. That will provide invaluable insight into the functions and demands of this career path, and it may lead to a job when the internship is completed.
  8. Getting a related job in healthcare will also provide valuable work experience and a potentially helpful starting point, such as a junior role in an administrative or clinical service capacity.
  9. An additional plus can be getting certified. The National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants (NSCHBC) offers a certification program that may benefit your career in the long-term.

These personal abilities will enable you to become a very effective and desirable consultant:

  • Being trusted. Do what you say you will do and do it with integrity.
  • Have the big picture in mind but master the details. Paying attention to details will enable you to deliver work that is error-free.
  • Distinguish yourself by being a go-getter. You may get many different assignments, especially in the beginning, but no matter how small or detailed, accomplish them with the idea in mind that you can distinguish yourself from others by the energy and quality that you put into your assignments.
  • Always think first then act. Think critically and assess possible outcomes and then act to achieve results.
  • Be a resourceful worker. You may face new challenges and questions to solve so find out ways to get information and solve the problems at hand.
  • Ask questions and get the facts rather than make assumptions so that your information is clarified and error-free.
  • Always act professionally. Your client relationships must always reflect the highest respect for the client and your employer.

As you look for a consulting company to join, consider these factors in your selection process:

  1. Is the company affiliated with the NSCHBC, showing their commitment to on-going knowledge and development within the industry?
  2. Does the company use technology and innovative methods in its consulting assignments?
  3. Does the company have a client-centered focus?
  4. Does the company have a great reputation in the industry?

Start Your Career Today

Securing and developing a healthcare consulting career can be a very gratifying and rewarding professional experience. And, because the industry is so important to our individual lifestyles, health and happiness, it can be personally and socially rewarding too.

For deeply experienced healthcare consulting expertise as well as fulfilling and progressive job opportunities, contact Community Hospital Corporation, based in Plano, TX. Our focus is to guide, support and enhance community hospitals and healthcare providers, strengthening and sustaining healthcare services.