The journey from healthcare professional to management consultant: a graduate's perspective.

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January 6, 2023
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4 min read
Written by
Nick Jones

Background

I chose a career in healthcare because I am driven to help people. I qualified as a Physiotherapist in 2016 and have worked in a number of areas including the NHS, sports, and private practice. In 2019, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in Sports and Exercise Medicine – I had always dreamt of a career working with elite athletes and travelling the world going to different sporting events. However, as I was finishing my master’s the pandemic hit and like many, this put a spanner in the works and the sporting jobs disappeared. So, I got a job working as a senior physiotherapist in a private hospital and working part-time in an NHS clinic on weekends.


Without realizing it these experiences were beginning to shape my next career move because I was observing first-hand the experiences of patients’ interactions with the two main providers of healthcare in the UK in 2021. In the private hospital I came across patients from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds. There were some who had self-funded an orthopedic procedure because they could not wait any longer on the NHS waiting list or did not meet the threshold for treatment. There were also patients who utilised the NHS Choose and Book service to have their surgery done privately as part of the NHS’ initiative to reduce the backlog of elective surgeries.


Most patients’ experiences were positive and they experienced great care. However, being a private provider, we were unable to refer into other NHS services. Our only point of contact for an onward referral was the patient’s GP. This system resulted in delays to patients getting the care they needed.


This prompted me to think about how many patients have difficulty navigating a complex health and care system, with barriers at every turn because of rigid care pathways that do not allow for flexibility in meeting the needs of the patient. I started to investigate how to make change happen in the NHS and discovered health management consulting.


Why did I choose health management consulting?

As I researched potential new roles, I discovered that a career as a management consultant offers a range of opportunities to develop new and existing skills whilst also providing the opportunity to work on a variety of projects in different settings. In my heart I have always wanted to help people and I realized I could support positive change in healthcare organizations and services that would improve outcomes for service users.


I started to search for other health professionals on LinkedIn who had switched to management consulting and found two individuals who had already been on this journey and who were willing to share their advice and guidance. After speaking to them I realized switching was possible and health professionals had a variety of transferable skills that made us excellent candidates for management consultants. However, the most challenging part would be converting these skills I had developed clinically to the skills required to be a management consultant.


What were my transferable skills?

After taking the time to review the job specifications for a variety of consulting roles, I was able to pick out several key skills that firms sought out when hiring prospective management consultants. These were problem-solving, critical thinking, communication and emotional intelligence, all things that I could identify as key skills that I had developed over the course of my career.


Problem-solving: Being able to problem-solve is the key to being a good consultant. Being able to identify and define the problems, gather information, diagnose them, and creatively find solutions, implement them, and review them for their effectiveness.


Critical Thinking: As consultants, critical thinking is vital to assess the quality, validity and reliability of data and distinguish between facts and opinions. Critical thinking allows us to conceptualize problems and deliver evidence-based solutions for clients.


Communication: This key skill is required by all consultants to be effective and to deliver information in a concise way. We work with a variety of stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and knowledge levels; therefore, we must be able to tailor how we deliver complex and technical information to avoid misunderstanding. Being a good communicator allows us to ask meaningful questions, but also listen to the needs of our clients.


Emotional Intelligence (EQ): EQ allows us to understand and manage our emotions and influence the emotions of those whom we work with. EQ facilitates constructive and collaborative relationships with colleagues, and clients, allowing us to put aside our internal biases and deliver high-quality change for our clients.


If you are a passionate healthcare professional who wants better experiences for those who interact with health services, then I urge you to consider a career in health management consulting. We have a variety of skills that make us excellent candidates to succeed in this field.


I also encourage you to think about what a career in management consulting can offer you, through developing new and existing skills and providing opportunities to work in a variety of health services, organizations and international health economies.


If you are ready to make the change, find out more about our unique Graduate Consultant Programme and apply at www.ccal.co.uk/graduates

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