Should you Explore a Career as a Health IT Consultant?

Oct 30, 2014 12:00:00 AM · by David Kushan

Very often when I am talking with people about their career options the thought of consulting enters into the conversation. Many times, people just aren't sure if consulting is for them. In these situations, I try to give them a starting point in order to determine if consulting is a path they should explore further.

First let me say that there is a difference between consulting and staff augmentation (contracting). For the sake of this post, I am not going to spend time differentiating between the two. For this post, 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 employ 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.  This is becoming less of an issue for many people. With the amount of projects that are taking place within healthcare organizations 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 as it 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 reasons, 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 upcoming posts.  But evaluating what I have listed above can give you an indication of whether further consideration to this profession should be given.

You may also like: Three Main Points to the Evolution of the Consultant

General, Consulting, Career Planning, David Kushan


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