Ways to get into health care/medical consulting as a recent finance graduate?

Dear WSO

I am working as a back-office (shudders) analyst at a bank. I wanted to get my foot into medical services/consulting when I was an undergraduate student, but somewhere along the way I forgot my goals and am squandering my recently-graduated years in BO. I am willing to go to school again for sciences and blend that with my business degree/experience. The quandaries are:

  1. Should I bother going to school for Biomed/biology? I see a lot of consultants who are former PhDs getting into Bain, McKinsey, etc. A few are solely biomedical engineers with zero FORMAl finance experience (my props)
  2. Will my basic business experiences be worth anything? I am doing operations for a bank, not something related to the med field and typically not sexy work (I know some IBD's parlay into med consulting/ m&a consulting, because they are highly regarded in all areas of finance)
  3. I am a recent graduate.

Feel free to lash out with any suggestions. Really asking seriously and want to commit to something long-term and fruitful.

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Comments (14)

Feb 27, 2019

1) Look into MPH programs
2) Depends where you went to school and how well you can articulate strategy
3) Okay.

I got a job at a top tier boutique for healthcare with an Economics degree. I also heavily traded biotechnology stocks and was able to explain commercial strategy in pharma extremely well. I have a high level understanding of the science, qualified by PhDs and MDs. I would say its most important to get someone with a technical degree to vouch for you, otherwise, you will find it very difficult to break into this field.

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Mar 5, 2019

I'm was in the same boat, I started out in Back Office banking and networked my way into a healthcare consulting firm. I am able to perform the work well, but would you be willing to share how you learned about pharma commercial strategy and science?

Feb 27, 2019

read my dude. back in college would spend 1-2 hours per day reading through biotech company profiles on seekingalpha and stat. was hard at first but it gets easier over time. for the science part - im one of those people that can memorize alot of stuff and regurgitate it. I would never bring up any "new" insights for the science stuff - i usually just say "I read that ..." or defer to the guy that has the science degree. But, then again, no one expects me to be able to speak brilliantly about the science part - that's not why I got hired. Just be able to speak the same language.

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Most Helpful
Mar 1, 2019

I wouldn't go for a PhD exclusively to try and break into consulting. Not to mention, its going to weigh heavily on where you are getting your PhD or masters. The non-MBAs I met across MBB had advanced degrees from "target" schools as well. For instance, I met an MD from Northwestern, a JD from Stanford, two PhDs from U Mich engineering... I suspect other targets would be schools places like Princeton and Harvard MPP.

As far as non-MBB, I'm not sure. The interview process is based around the case. The cases are designed that anyone can solve them, no MBA required...

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Feb 27, 2019

for healthcare strategy, the cases are specific to pharma. I had two cases - one quantitative (how many patients could this drug treat, at what price, and what's the investment. Then did a risk-adjusted npv) and one qualitative that focused more on which stakeholders served which purpose during launch processes and to recommend strategies for approaching each stakeholder (KOLs, PBMs, Patient Advocates, etc)

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Mar 6, 2019

Agreed - I would strongly advise against pursuing a PhD simply to break into life science consulting. I think there are much faster and less painful ways for you to reach your goal. I'm nearing the end of my PhD studies, and it is a long, grueling process. Not to mention most target schools would not admit you if you tell them your goal is to use the PhD to break into consulting. You'd have to come up with another plausible reason for wanting to get a PhD, and have the undergrad degree and research experience to match.

I'll also add that FiercePharma and FierceBiotech are great resources to stay appraised of the major happenings in the life science space. Scan those daily.

Mar 1, 2019

You could expect either of those cases in generalist consulting interviews as well...

Feb 27, 2019

would love to see an undergrad without specific pharma knowledge answer either of those cases. and any case i did at an MBB had nothing to do with pharma but were more general BS strategy class questions.

Mar 11, 2019

Healthcare consulting is an area where everyone has advanced degrees, at least a masters. As healthcareconsultant1234 suggested, you can look into MPH. The majority of people in our healthcare practice have that.

Mar 11, 2019

There are a few things you can do, you just need to know more about the industry. Firstly, read and understand who is leader in each therapy area (or what therapy areas the largest companies are in) e.g. Biogen is a neurology powerhouse, Takeda does a bunch of oncology work and so forth. Learn the science basic such as what is an antibody, viral vector, biomarker, surrogate endpoint etc.

You should also know a bit about the dynamics of the industry you're about to consulting in. Every major country in the Western world has a national healthcare reimbursement system (minus the US) and you should learn the basics of the main G7 markets (Japan, USA, EU5). Higher level than that you should know about how the FDA/EMA approve drugs and devices and any pathways each of them has (Accelerated Approval, Priority Review, Orphan Designation etc).

Lastly, you should aim to find something that can match your skill set. There is a lot of commercial due diligence work done by consultants in this space (firms like LEK live off this) where your numerical skills could come in handy. You could also be on commercial opportunity assessment projects [we have 3 assets in the lab but limited resources, which asset should we focus on developing?], or pricing projects [how should we price this drug to get the best HTA outcomes and what does this look like in a revenue forecast model]

Try looking into the work some firms that specialise in this area do, even boutiques (Alacrita Consulting, Lifescience Dynamics, Candesic, Trinity Partners, Putnam Associates etc). You'll find plenty of info online and you'll see that whilst a science degree helps, it is possible to make it with out it; just prove you know your shit.

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Mar 20, 2019

If you want to do investment banking and don't care what exactly, I would try Equity Research in Healthcare then moving to Hedge Fund covering Healthcare. No need to have more experience or additional schools. You can eventually need to move into more BD roles at a VC fund covering Healthcare.

Mar 21, 2019

From a high school friend who went the MPH route:

  • If you're trying to get into an MBB, do an MBA at a top school.
  • If you're trying to get into non-MBBs, do an MBA at a decent school or an MPH (or MPH equivalent) at a brand-name school with a recruiting pipeline for consulting (Emory, Columbia, Michigan, UNC, Hopkins)

You know the drill for MBAs, but to make yourself competitive for better MPH programs, get some work/volunteer experience in healthcare.

Also try do decide on an area of healthcare you want to focus on (e.g. pharma, insurance, hospital revenue cycle) early on, so you can focus on what kind of experience you need to get to be a competitive job candidate.

ALSO, consider that the model of healthcare finance and delivery in the US is almost definitely going to change drastically over the course of your career, so you'll need to be prepared to ride that wave when it starts picking up.

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Mar 21, 2019

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Mar 21, 2019