A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.
When you think of the healthcare industry, there is a pretty good chance the first positions that come to mind are the medical kind—doctor, nurse, medical assistant. But did you know that the healthcare industry is also home to a large number of non-medical healthcare administration and healthcare management career paths? The non-medical professionals who occupy these roles are responsible for ensuring that medical facilities run efficiently and effectively.
What Is Healthcare Management?
Healthcare management doesn’t involve providing direct patient care such as the kind that doctors or nurses provide. When someone refers to healthcare management or healthcare administration, they’re referring to the “business side” of healthcare—the planning, directing, and coordinating of medical and health services. Those who work in the field of healthcare management are known as medical and health services managers, healthcare executives, or healthcare administrators.1
Healthcare Management vs. Healthcare Administration
Healthcare management and healthcare administration, though related, are not exactly the same thing.
What Is Healthcare Management?
A healthcare management professional might be responsible for running an entire facility, a specific clinical area or department, or a group medical practice. Some typical responsibilities might include promoting greater efficiency and quality in delivering healthcare services, developing departmental goals, ensuring legal and regulatory compliance, preparing and monitoring budgets and spending, and communicating with medical staff and department heads.1
What Is Healthcare Administration?
A healthcare administration professional is someone who works on the business side of healthcare but doesn’t necessarily have management responsibilities. Medical records and health information technicians are one example, as they are overseen by health information managers (a specific type of medical and health services manager).1
What Can You Do with a Healthcare Management Degree?
A healthcare management degree program should be designed to help you prepare to pursue a number of career paths within the field, including:2
- Clinical Director
- Health Information Management Director
- Health Information Manager
- Healthcare System Director
- Medical Records Manager
- Mental Health Program Manager
- Nurse Manager
- Nursing Director
How might a degree program help you prepare to pursue a healthcare management career path? A bachelor’s-level degree program should offer an introduction to the fundamentals of healthcare management, including an introduction to healthcare delivery systems, basic healthcare ethics, and medical terminology—in addition to fundamental healthcare operations management topics like fiscal management or healthcare reimbursement. A master’s-level degree program should be designed to offer more in-depth coverage of some of these same topics, including a deeper dive into the influence that certain factors—such as access, population health and health policies—have on healthcare delivery systems. (We’ll discuss the differences among healthcare management degree programs in a bit more detail below.)
Healthcare Management Career Paths
Healthcare Management Job Growth
The healthcare industry is expected to experience a greater demand for its services due in large part to an aging baby-boom population. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of medical and health services managers should grow 28 percent from 2021 to 2031.1
What’s behind this projected job growth?1
- As demand for physicians, medical procedures and healthcare facilities grows, so should the need for health managers who maintain and oversee medical information and staff.
- As medical technologies improve, the healthcare industry should continue to undergo a shift—from performing procedures in hospitals to performing them in health practitioners’ offices. This shift is projected to lead to greater employment in health practitioners’ offices.
- The use of electronic records on a large scale within the healthcare industry should continue to create demand for health managers who are knowledgeable in information technology and informatics.
How to Become a Healthcare Manager
Aspiring healthcare managers generally need to possess several types of qualifications:1
- Education: Healthcare management professionals must typically possess at least a bachelor's degree, although master’s degrees are also common (and sometimes preferred by employers). Majoring in healthcare or a related discipline is common—for example, health administration or nursing.
- Prior Work Experience: Potential employers tend to look for medical and health services managers who have work experience in a related occupation. Prior work experience in an administrative or clinical role in a hospital, group medical practice, outpatient clinic, or other healthcare facility could be required, depending on the employer. Prior work experience as a medical records and health information technician, administrative assistant or financial clerk in a healthcare setting could also lay the foundation for a healthcare management career path.
- Important Soft Skills:
- Analytical skills—to understand and stay current on laws and regulations to ensure that their facility is in compliance with those laws and regulations.
- Communication skills:—to effectively communicate policies and procedures to other healthcare professionals and to ensure that staff understand and comply with relevant laws and regulations.
- Detail-oriented—to effectively manage facility finances such as patient fees and billing, create work schedules, or keep track of a facilities services (such as the number of occupied beds in a hospital).
- Interpersonal skills—to aid in discussing staffing problems or patient information with medical and non-medical healthcare professionals.
- Leadership skills—to identify creative solutions to staffing problems, and to hire, train, motivate and lead staff. It also takes leadership skills to implement the departmental or facility-wide goals and objectives they develop.
- Important Hard Skills: Up-to-date technical skills might be necessary to keep up with advances in healthcare technology and data analytics.
- Licensing and Certification: Most areas of medical and health services management do not mandate professional licensing or certification (apart from nursing home and assisted-living facility administration), although some positions may require a registered nurse (RN) or social services license. Nevertheless, some may still choose to seek certification in a particular area of practice.
Studying Healthcare Management
Course requirements for healthcare management degree or healthcare administration programs typically involve a mix of business and healthcare courses. The same is true for business administration degree programs that offer a concentration in healthcare management. The following is an overview of some options:
- A Bachelor’s in Healthcare Management degree program, or BSHCM, will typically cover general business topics such as accounting, economics, spreadsheet planning and management fundamentals. It will also include more targeted healthcare-management courses such as healthcare statistics and research, ethics in healthcare, health policy and politics, and the economics of healthcare, among others.
CTU also offers a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Management degree online program with a concentration in health informatics, with courses on data management in information systems, security of electronic health information, and health analytics.
- A Master’s in Healthcare Management degree program, or MSHCM, will typically cover topics such as healthcare systems, healthcare statistics and health policy, in addition to business-oriented courses on human resources management, economics, quality improvement and marketing strategies that are specific to the healthcare industry.
- An MBA in Healthcare Management degree program is also worth considering if you’re interested in professional roles on the business side of the healthcare industry. Further, because MBA programs don’t require that you already possess a bachelor’s in business administration, they could be an attractive option for physicians or nurses who are looking to pursue management opportunities, or professionals in non-medical fields who would like to work in healthcare.
- A Master of Business Administration degree program with a concentration in Healthcare Management, or MBA-HCM, will typically include courses covering traditional business administration topics such as managerial accounting, economics, and decision-making, but with a focus on practices and policies relevant to the healthcare industry. CTU’s MBA Healthcare Management concentration includes coverage of healthcare organization management and healthcare systems, plus a healthcare management capstone and an elective course of your choosing.
If you’re trying to decide on an undergraduate program and are interested in healthcare administration but aren’t sure whether you’re ready to commit to a bachelor’s degree program, then an an associate degree in health administration services could be a good match for you. CTU’s Online Associate Degree in Health Administration Services is designed to help you prepare yourself to pursue entry-level opportunities upon successful completion of the program.
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Medical and Health Services Managers,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm (visited 11/10/2022). This data represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.
2 O*NET Online, “11-9111.00—Medical and Health Services Managers,” https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/11-9111.00 (visited 11/10/2022). CTU cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement. The list of career paths related to CTU’s Healthcare Management program is based on a subset from the Bureau of Labor Statistics CIP to SOC Crosswalk. Some career paths listed above may require further education or job experience.
CTU cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement. Not all programs are available to residents of all states.
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