When considering professions in healthcare, most people would think about doctors and nurses. However, healthcare management is an equally important field. Professionals in this field are responsible for managing the ways in which people receive healthcare. Their job is to make sure that healthcare practices are implemented properly in long term care facilities, home health care companies, nursing homes, clinics, doctor’s offices, hospitals, and more.
What is Healthcare Management?
Medical staff members are, of course, hugely important within the field of health care. However, they have to be properly managed, and so with the tools and resources that they have at their disposal to deliver positive health outcomes. In order to manage this, you must have the proper knowledge and skills, as it will be your responsibility to ensure that the facility for which you work operates smoothly, and that you can bring about positive change. You will be at the forefront of changes in regulations and laws in the field of healthcare, as well as new technology. As a result, you can oversee any element of a health care setting, including marketing, finance, and human resources.
The field of healthcare management is also changing rapidly due to the aging population. On the one hand, this means that there are more patients with increasingly complex healthcare needs and increasingly stringent demands. On the other hand, it also means that the current healthcare workforce is retiring, which is causing significant problems with supply. A healthcare manager, therefore, is also heavily involved in succession planning, while continuing to make sure that their organization runs both profitably and successfully.
The field of healthcare management is growing rapidly. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for instance, has reported that there will be a 17% increase in demand for medical and health services managers from 2014 to 2024. This is almost three times faster than the average for all other professions. It translates into a need for an additional 56,300 more professionals within that period, which is very significant. They also report that the average annual salary at bachelor’s degree level is $94,500, which demonstrates just how intense is the need for these types of professionals.
The field of healthcare management is filled with opportunities. Because of this, there are many different career paths available as well.
According to the BLS:
- 37% work in private, local, and state hospitals, earning $102,060 per year on average.
- 10% work in offices of physicians, earning $85,600 per year on average.
- 10% work in residential care and nursing facilities, earning $78,540 per year on average.
- 9% work for the government, earning $101,190 per year on average.
- 6% work for home healthcare services, earning $82,430 per year on average.
Within the above fields, however, there are numerous specific job opportunities available to you. Some of the most popular roles are:
- Clinical Director
- Health and Social Service Manager
- Medical Records Manager
- Office Manager
- Practice Administrator
What this small sampling shows is the breadth and width of the field of healthcare management. It is not uncommon for people to specialize their skills so that they can focus on a specific area of practice, or a specific element of the healthcare system as a whole. However, they all have the same baseline, transferable skills, which means they can easily transfer between different jobs if they feel they need a change.
According to Payscale.com, popular career options and their associated salaries are:
- Executive Director, earning $69,500 per year on average.
- Practice Administrator, earning $56,500 per year on average.
- Practice Manager, earning $58,750 per year on average.
- Project Manager, Operations, earning $63,496 per year on average.
- Director of Operations, earning $96,750 per year on average.
Determining the exact salary of a healthcare manager depends on a wealth of factors, including the level of experience and the education. Another key factor is where they work in the country, with geographical location seeming to be a strong influencing factor. According to the BLS, the top five states to work in as a medical and health services manager are:
- The District of Columbia, with average annual salaries of $142,380.
- New York, with average annual salaries of $135,640.
- Connecticut, with average annual salaries of $129,710.
- California, with average annual salaries of $122,800.
- Alaska, with average annual salaries of $121,530.
Payscale.com goes into slightly greater detail, looking at specific cities and their average earnings. They report that healthcare managers in:
- Washington, DC, earn $81,500 per year on average.
- Dallas, Texas, earn $130,250 per year on average.
- Charlotte, North Carolina, earn $61,912 per year on average.
- Springfield, Missouri, earn $62,500 per year on average.
Another very important factor that affects how much someone can earn in the field of healthcare management is who they work for. Often times, large metropolitan hospitals will be some of the top payers, as are government entities. That being said, the cost of living in those geographical areas tends to be higher as well, which is something you must take into consideration. Glassdoor.com has reported on some of the top employers in the country for healthcare managers, showing that:
- Canam pays its Management Analyst (Healthcare Systems) $50,539 per year.
- BPL Limited pays its VP Operations – Healthcare Management Consulting $69,168 per year.
- Vlink pays its Management Analyst – Healthcare Administration between $57,000 and $61,000 per year.
In order to become involved in the field of healthcare management, you must obtain the proper education. This starts with a bachelor’s degree. Numerous universities now offer bachelor’s degrees in healthcare management online, which is very convenient for those who also want to be able to work in this particular field. One excellent degree program is the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management (BSHM) offered by the UT Dallas, Naveen Jindal School of Management. One of the key features that makes this degree program so interesting is that it offers a fast track opportunity, enabling students to complete both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in as little as five years. This is important, as the real career opportunities in the field of healthcare management exist for those who have a master’s degree as a minimum. The degree is also AACSB-accredited, which is the gold standard in business studies.
The BSHM offered by UT Dallas’ curriculum focuses on five specific elements, which are:
- Human Resources
- Information Systems
- Law and Regulatory
Master’s & MBA Degree
As stated, completing a master’s degree is virtually a requirement if you want to become involved in the field of healthcare management. Numerous schools offer this degree program, and many also offer it online. An example of a highly respected degree is the MS in Health Care Management offered by Johns Hopkins University, Carey Business School, which is also accredited by the AACSB.
Schools can set admission requirements as they see fit. However, those requirements are the school’s way of determining whether a student has the capacity to complete the curriculum and study at master’s degree level. As a result, most schools have the same admission requirements. For Johns Hopkins University, they are:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
- All transcripts
- A resume
- Two essays
- One letter of recommendation
- GMAT/GRE scores
- TOEFL or other English proficiency proof for non-native English speakers
One of the reasons why accreditation is so important is because it proves to prospective employers across the country and even abroad that your degree program has met certain minimum standards accepted within the profession. Without accreditation, schools could set a curriculum as they see fit, and you could end up with a degree that would not be recognized in the workplace. The AACSB accreditation that Johns Hopkins University has obtained is one of the most respected in the world, which means your degree could potentially take you abroad should you have an interest in that yourself.
Their curriculum includes:
- Health Care Systems around the World
- Frameworks for Analyzing Health Care Markets
- Health Care Law and Regulation
- Providers and Payers
- Health Care Marketing and Access
- Health Care Innovation and Evaluation
- Research and Policy Seminars in Health Care I and II
- Health Care Operations
- Emerging Frontiers in Health Care Technologies and Strategies
- Medical Devices and Diagnostics
- Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals
- Health Care Financing and Financial Management
- High Reliability Health Care Organizations
- Business Solutions for Community Health Improvement
- Strategic Management
- Consumer Behavior
- Entrepreneurial Ventures
- Competitive Pricing Analysis
- Accounting and Financial Reporting
- Corporate Finance
- Decision Models
- Data Analytics
Unfortunately, obtaining an education is an expensive endeavor. You must invest a lot of time, even if you do decide to study online. And you will also need to invest a great deal of money. Luckily, schools offer a lot of help to their prospective students, signposting them to financial aid opportunities and offering a range of scholarships and grants. External financial assistance is also available, and you should consider applying for as many as them as much as possible. Some options are the:
- Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship, to the value of $5,000.
- Bachrach Family Scholarship for Excellence in Health Care Administration, to the value of between $1,000 and $5,000.
- Bill and Mary Russell Scholarship, to the value of $500.
- Campus Safety, Health, and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) Scholarship Award, to the value of $2,000.
- Corris Boyd Scholars Program, to the value of $40,000.
- David A. Winston Health Policy Scholarship, to the value of $10,000.
- Elliott C. Roberts Scholarship, to the value of $1,000.
- Foster G. McGaw Graduate Student Scholarship, to the value of $5,000.
- Gates Millennium Scholars Program, offering varying amounts.
- Harry J. Harwick Scholarship, to the value of $5,000.
Generally speaking, in order to be considered for one of these scholarships, you will have to demonstrate financial need, have a certain minimum GPA, be a member of a professional organization, belong to a certain minority group, study in a certain geographical location, and/or plan for a specific career in the field of healthcare management.
There is generally no requirement for healthcare managers to obtain certification. The exception is that, in some states, nursing care facility administrators do have to be certified. That said, there are interesting certifications that you may want to consider regardless, as they demonstrate to prospective employers that you are committed to furthering your profession. Some of the certifications you may want to consider are:
- Certification for Healthcare Executives
- Board Certification in Healthcare Management
- Certified Healthcare Facilities Manager
It is recommended that if you are serious about entering the field of healthcare management, you need align yourself with professional associations and organizations in that field. You should do that as soon as you consider enrolling at bachelor’s degree level, not in the least because many of these organizations and associations also offer scholarships and grants to its members. Membership enables you to remain up to date with latest developments in your profession, as well as to drive positive change. Furthermore, it gives you the opportunity to build an extensive professional network, which is always of benefit to further your own career in the future. Some of the organizations and associations you may want to consider are the:
- American College of Health Care Administrators
- Professional Association of Health Care Office Management
- AMME (Alliance for Medical Management Education)
- American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE)
- Occupational Outlook Handbook – Medical and Health Services Managers. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm
- Master of Health Administration (MHA), Health Care Administration Degree Average Salary. (2017, Apr. 8). Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Health_Administration_(MHA)%2C_Health_Care_Administration/Salary
- Healthcare Management Salaries in the United States. (2017, Apr. 13). Retrieved from https://www.indeed.com/salaries/Healthcare+Management-Salaries
- Healthcare Management Salaries. (2016, Nov. 28). Retrieved from https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/healthcare-management-salary-SRCH_KO0,21.htm
- Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://jindal.utdallas.edu/undergraduate-programs/bs-healthcare-management/#02-degree-plan
- MS in Health Care Management. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://carey.jhu.edu/academics/master-of-science/ms-in-health-care-management/