Degrees in healthcare management will prepare students to manage the delivery of personal health services in a variety of healthcare settings. These programs will focus on the organization, financing, marketing, and managing of healthcare institutions, and graduates will be prepared to pursue careers as medical and health services managers, executives, and administrators. They will work in healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and emergency health services. The degree may also be appropriate for individuals seeking positions as planners, policy analysts, or consultants who focus on the financing, organization, quality, and delivery of personal health services.
A degree in healthcare management is similar to a degree in healthcare administration, and some schools even use the terms interchangeably. However, some healthcare management programs tend to focus on the business side of running a healthcare facility, whereas healthcare administration programs may relate more closely to the management of hospital staff. Accredited online colleges for healthcare management offer degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels, but nearly every upper-level management position in the healthcare industry requires an advanced degree.
Healthcare Management Course Work Basics
The undergraduate and graduate programs in healthcare management will differ, but they will likely combine healthcare-specific course work with classes in business management, financial management, and planning and policy management. Students may also take classes in healthcare law and ethics, and epidemiology. Some programs allow students to specialize in a particular type of healthcare facility, such as a hospital, a mental health facility, or a group medical practice. They will learn about the nation’s healthcare system, as well as the challenges that various types of healthcare organizations face.
- Empirical Methods for Health Informatics: This course will examine the application of health technology to healthcare, population health, and personal health.
- Health Information Technology (HIT): Students will learn about strategic tools for modernizing healthcare delivery in the U.S. Students will become familiar with major HIT applications.
- Health Law: This course will introduce students to the legal issues that they are likely to encounter when managing a healthcare organization. Students will learn about the role of the courts in health policy and healthcare delivery, as well as how they can communicate effectively with attorneys.
- Mastering Ethical Frontiers in Health Care: This course will explore important ethical frontiers in healthcare, in which our ethical assumptions do not provide a clear answer.
- Organization and Management of Healthcare Systems: This course will cover concepts including the theories of organizations, organizational structures, the use of leadership, and management processes. Students will learn about how the best healthcare providers deliver high quality, cost-effective health care, and how they implement changes to improve future outcomes.
An internship at a healthcare facility or some kind of professional field experience may be a required component of the program, although this applies primarily to undergraduate programs; most master’s degree candidates have already attained some work experience. Regardless of whether or not this is mandatory, students should seek opportunities to attain field experience while still in school.
Careers for the Healthcare Management Graduate
Career opportunities for bachelor’s and master’s degree students will vary. Individuals who have bachelor’s degrees may work as administrative assistants, assistant department heads, and medical secretaries. Master’s degree candidates may go on to work as executive-level administrators, health services managers, and clinical managers. Their responsibilities may include managing the daily operations of a clinic, meeting healthcare cost and quality targets, maximizing efficiency, and ensuring proper resource allocation. Keep in mind that salaries will vary based on the type of facility in which one works. For instance, managers in general hospitals earn a higher salary than those who work in smaller nursing care facilities. Graduates may also pursue careers in public health or healthcare consulting.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage of medical and health services managers was $96,030 in 2011. Employment opportunities for medical and health services managers are expected to increase by 22% from 2010 to 2020. Of course, BLS figures are subject to variation, and that earnings can vary significantly based on the type and size of the facility in which managers work, and salaries are also dependent on individual qualifications.