Our Journey: HIT Consulting Served Family Style

Ron Stephenson Family Photo
As HIT consultants, we often trade time at home with our families for well-paying jobs, rewarding careers and flexible lifestyles. We grind it out during the week and squeeze as much family time into our weekends as is humanly possible. Anyone who does HIT consulting for a living has endured long flights, snowy drives, hotel gyms and hundreds of solo dinners at the same few places. We trudge home Thursday. Race back out on Monday. Rinse and repeat.

I’ve often asked my colleagues about work-life balance. What do you miss most? Overwhelmingly, the answer is, “I miss my family.” Time with their spouse and watching kids grow are always at the top of the list. As an HIT consultant, I chose a different journey to have it all—the optimal professional career AND a solid family relationship. Here is my story.

The Path Less Traveled

I started consulting in 2001 and my first traveling consulting opportunity came in 2010 while working on an Epic implementation project. It was a standard six-month engagement and we needed the money.

My wife had just given birth to our second son four months earlier. The idea of not being there to help or share first-year special moments was distressing for both of us. But financially, the consulting gig was a no-brainer. So we asked ourselves, “Is there a way we can do this and still be together?” Our decision back in 2010 became a game changer for our entire family—in just about every way.

Instead of flying back and forth to the client site every week, we relocated to the city where the hospital was located. We put our crib, baby toys, clothes and essentials into a moving truck and drove to the site where we enjoyed two-and-a-half years of family togetherness alongside a successful Epic implementation. The details around that project alone—what we did right and wrong and learned along the way—are enough to fill a year’s worth of weekly blogs.

Have Gig, Will Move: Lessons Learned in HIT Consulting

Since then, we’ve lived in five different cities. The logistics can be complicated and there are certainly sacrifices to make. However, what we’ve given up in terms of home comforts have been paid back beyond measure in the time together, new friendships and family experiences.

Over the next several months, this blog will share our lessons learned and suggest new ways to success as a healthcare IT consultant—family style. Together with my wife, we’ll share details of our journey and list tips on coordinating a family-focused career—including IT project logistics, acclimating to a new city, flexible education options, and how to manage things back at home. There are also some intangible benefits that aren’t obvious until you’ve gone through the process.

I’ll ask my wife to share things from her perspective from time to time, as this doesn’t work without her buy-in, effort and willingness to make it all happen. I’ll select topics that are interesting to other consultants too. We hope you enjoy these stories from our Epic journey.

Read the next post in the Our Epic Journey series: Preparing for Consulting Life on the Road.

Read more from other consultants on our Consultant Lifestyle blog.