Health Care Consultants
Education and Training Requirements
Take as many health, biology, chemistry, and mathematics classes as possible in high school. Since consultants must frequently write reports and convey their findings orally to clients, take English and speech classes. Other useful courses include computer science, psychology, business, and social studies.
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement to become a consultant, although some employers—especially major firms—prefer to hire consultants with a master’s degree in health care management, health policy, or business, or at least a bachelor’s degree plus several years of appropriate work experience. Twenty-eight percent of management consultants have a master’s degree, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Notre Dame, and the College of William & Mary are among the few colleges that offer degrees and concentrations in consulting.
Georgetown University, University of Southern California, the University of Texas at Dallas, and other colleges and universities offer consulting certificate programs. Contact these schools to learn more.
Other Education or Training
Many professional associations provide continuing-education (CE) opportunities to management consultants. For example, the National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants offers seminars at its annual meeting. Past sessions included Medical Consulting from the Ground Up, Accountable Care Organizations and New Opportunities in Healthcare Marketing, and How to Identify and Adapt to Change.
The Institute of Management Consultants USA offers a Mastering Management Consulting fundamentals course for those just starting a new consulting practice or re-focusing an existing one. Educational opportunities are also available in face-to-face seminars and online webinars, at its International Consult-Con conference, and through other media.
The American College of Healthcare Executives, National CPA Health Care Advisors Association, and many other national and state-level consulting associations provide CE opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Becoming certified is a great way to demonstrate your expertise to potential clients. The National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants offers voluntary certification. Those interested in becoming certified can do so by enrolling in either an online certification course or an instructor-led review course, and passing an exam. The Institute of Management Consultants USA offers the certified management consultant designation to those consultants who pass an examination and meet minimum educational and experience requirements.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Try to obtain as much experience as possible in the field by participating in summer internships and working at part-time jobs. It will take several years of on-the-job experience to be considered a full-fledged consultant.
Health care consultants must be excellent communicators in order to convey their findings to clients. They must be good researchers and be willing to pursue continuing education in order to stay up to date with changes in health care management practices, laws, business practices, and treatment strategies. Other key traits include tact, organizational and leadership skills, creativity, confidence, strong ethics, and an analytical personality. Those who are self-employed must have good marketing skills in order to attract new clients. They also need knowledge of basic accounting and office management practices.