Ask the Expert: How to Break into Healthcare Finance
Question: I am trying to break into the healthcare financial industry. My end goal is a financial analyst position at a leading healthcare provider or payer.
As for my experience, I am a Big 4 accounting firm alumni with two years of auditing/accounting experience. Although I do not have any direct healthcare-related work experience, I believe I have skills that can directly transfer to an analyst position. My primary concern is being screened out of the recruiting process.
Answer 1: Thank you for your enthusiasm to pursue a position in healthcare finance. Although you may not have any direct healthcare experience, your Big 4 accounting experience is strength and a desirable career characteristic.
My recommendation to pursue person-to-person introductions with healthcare finance professionals, and I would strongly suggest that you seek out the local HFMA chapter in your area and attend their events. HFMA local chapters generally have several well attended events throughout the year that offer tremendous networking opportunities. Additionally, the events will offer you an opportunity to augment your financial acumen with various healthcare finance topics that will be presented at these meetings.
Furthermore, you may want to contact the board members of the local HFMA chapter and ask them for advice and guidance as this may offer additional opportunities for introductions. I wish you good luck in your transition into healthcare finance and hope these suggestions are helpful to you.
This answered was provided by Craig Nesta is partner, TRG Healthcare, LLC, Philadelphia, and a member of HFMA’s Massachusetts-Rhode Island Chapter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Answer 2: I am currently working on my 18th interim healthcare financial management project. This means I have had to find work at hospitals and physician practices repeatedly over my career. I have also observed how people have been hired by healthcare organizations where I have worked.
I believe your goal should be to get as many interviews with healthcare financial executives in his geographic area as possible. Try to cast a wide net.
I recommend that you contact every finance person you know in the healthcare industry who might be helpful to you. If your budget allows, try taking an executive who might be helpful to breakfast or lunch.
I believe that human resource offices are generally not good places to start. Finance offices are best. This is because the decision to hire, or not, almost always lies with a healthcare finance executive. Usually human resources only provides assistance with background checks, salary offers, and related issues. Human resources at many healthcare organizations can be an impediment, not a help.
Many HFMA chapters have websites with listings of job openings. Analyst positions are among the types of jobs that are often listed. At my chapter, the positions on the website often are opened and filled quickly. So you should try to check websites every day.
The world is changing fast. I'm told great jobs appear regularly on Craig's List. I've never used it myself, but I'm told it works.
Joining HMFA is a good way to get connected with people who can help you get interviews and be hired. If you want to take full advantage of the networking in HFMA, volunteer for one or more committees that are related to financial analysis. Attend the committee meetings. Help with educational programs. Write a short article in the newsletter or help with the production of the newsletter.
When I first joined HFMA, I volunteered to sit at the registration desk for educational meetings. I got to meet a lot of people fast that way, especially people that I wanted to meet but otherwise had no way to connect. I also went to meetings early to talk informally with other early arrivals. I tried hard to connect with people at lunch. I stayed to the end of the meetings and sometimes would have a drink with others.
I got a lot of jobs, without directly trying, through HFMA simply as a byproduct of the volunteer work that I did.
In addition, I recommend that you find the most successful recruiters are in healthcare finance in your area. Contact each one. Make sure each has your resume. Try to sit down with a real person at each recruiting organization to make sure you are known.
Interim or temp work can get a person in the door at some organizations. Consider that as well. Interim work tends to pay well. Temp work does not.
Finally, consider taking a certification exam at HFMA. Sign up for an HFMA coaching course. You might meet a lot of helpful people that way, especially the people teaching the course.
This answer was provided by Robert J. Ellertsen, FHFMA, is interim vice president finance/CFO, Cambridge Health Alliance Physicians Organization, Waban, Mass., and a member of HFMA’s Massachusetts-Rhode Island Chapter (email@example.com).
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