For many years I have belonged to a national network of healthcare executives. In recent years, after serving in 15 hospitals in nine states as an interim healthcare executive, I have become a "go-to" person within the network for people who are considering interim management work.
Nearly all managers who have called me seeking interim management were not currently working. Some are considering doing interim work temporarily as they search for a permanent position while others have chosen not to seek a permanent job because doing so would require them to relocate their families.
Interim management positions offer a "test drive" period for both you and the client hospital for potentially converting you to a permanent role. I recently learned from a company that provides interim healthcare managers that 31% of their interim placements converted to permanent employment in 2008. In 2009 the company's conversion rate was 45%. Another interim placement company that prefers to hire people who are only interested in interim assignments has a conversion rate less than 5%. Regardless of your decision, at the end of your interim assignments, you will have at least gained additional knowledge and skills for your next position, be it interim or permanent.
The interim manager's lifestyle
Whatever your reason for considering interim work, one of the first questions you need to address is the effect on your family and friends of your being absent from home one to two weeks at a time, possibly for several months. In addition, working away from home can be a lonely, trying experience. You will be among strangers in a new community and should expect to be treated as such. Don't expect to be invited into people's homes and churches, especially if you have not bought a house and moved your family.
Just finding your way around in a new town and hospital building is often time-consuming and annoying. Traveling home on weekends can be frustrating and exhausting. Obtaining suitable temporary quarters is an important priority no matter how busy your early days may be. You may find yourself doing your own cooking, housekeeping and travel arrangements. The appropriateness and costs of your accommodations should be based on the length of your assignment and be approved by your client.
Once settled, you run the risk of working, eating, and drinking too much while sleeping and exercising too little. Personal discipline and good time management are required to establish a healthy balance between your work and leisure time.
Finding interim work
The market for interim healthcare managers is growing, but the competition for interim work remains tough. There are many more people willing to take interim managerial positions than there are interim opportunities. Candidates with broad experience in several settings will be more attractive to prospective employers facing a temporary period of leadership transition. A progressive record of achievement within one organization can reflect this kind of experience and may fit a client hospital's needs. Consider rewriting your resume and cover letter before presenting yourself for interim work to highlight your adaptability and success in completing a variety of deliverables on time.