Public health consulting?

Discussion in 'Public Health Degrees (Masters and Doctoral)' started by K05, 09.23.14.

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  1. K05


    MD/PhD Student
    Hi, new to the forum but I have had a look around and this appears to be a tremendous resource, so I thought I would post this here.

    I am currently a PhD student (epidemiology and biostatistics) at a top 15 program (pardon the elusiveness, attempting to maintain some anonymity). I am considering shifting my career trajectory from a focus on research in academia to private industry, possibly consulting. There are a few reasons for this departure, but most of it is centered on my wariness of chasing down grant funding for the next 40 years.

    I am in an exploratory phase right now, trying to determine if there is a market for someone with my skill-set in consulting. Through a quick search it appears that there are several consulting firms that have a focus on public health (e.g., John Snow Inc., PCG health, Management Sciences for Health [MSH], ICF International). It also appears that some other firms (e.g., Booz Allen Hamilton, Accenture, Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company) have a "health" or "healthcare" area of expertise. My concern is that it looks like candidates for positions within these companies come from management (MBA) backgrounds rather than epidemiology.

    I know very little about the consulting world, so I hoping someone here can shed some light. I would love the opportunity to correspond with anyone that can provide any insight to this niche industry. I am hoping to get some information what I can do through certifications and internships during my time-to-complete my degree that will make me a strong candidate for these types of positions. I would also be open to any other suggestions/advice that anyone may have.

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  3. CopperStripes

    CopperStripes Member 10+ Year Member

    Attending Physician
    Yes, most candidates for positions at the management consulting firms that you mention have business backgrounds. But many of them welcome applicants with non-business backgrounds who have advanced degrees in other fields, such as public health or medicine. While I was in my MPH program, many of those companies came to recruit at the public health school - McKinsey, BCG, Booz & Co, Accenture, and others. Those that appreciate their healthcare clients see the value in hiring candidates with healthcare knowledge, skills, and familiarity with the health industry. They figure they can teach you the business skills you need ‘on the job’ or during orientation / mini-MBA programs.

    You still need to go through the same application process as any other applicants, though. That means learning or freshening up on some very basic business stuff, like Profit = Revenue – Costs and what fixed and variable costs are. You’ll likely need to practice for problem-based interviews and - for McKinsey – a multiple choice test.

    Here are just a couple of pros and cons that come to mind of the solely health-focused companies versus the larger consulting companies: John Snow, ECG Management, etc – All your work will be healthcare-related, but you may not learn the broad business skills that you would at management consulting firm; Many of these tend to do work in their region, so you might do less traveling. McKinsey, BCG, etc – You may end up on projects that aren’t in healthcare; Can be lots of travel depending on your location; Working for one of these very big and very well-known firms will likely open up wide doors for you career-wise; Some of these companies are quite well known and associated with prestige.

    Finally, I’ll point out that many of the large firms with competitive application processes (McKinsey, BCG, etc) have early interview cycles in the fall. So, you could apply for those and, if you don’t get an offer or you don’t think they’re the right fit, you’d still have ample time to apply for positions at healthcare consulting companies in the spring.
  4. Stories

    Stories Life Afficianado SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    Many of the big management consulting firms have programs setup to recruit MDs and PhDs, here's one example:

    My friend recently went this route. She attended several recruiting meetings and practice case interviews, and a whole lot more to land her job. It's a pretty long process but these types of things will help prepare you for your interviews.

    Also, be sure you want the lifestyle. These jobs are pretty demanding.
  5. tasoylatte


    Atlanta, GA

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