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Explore careers in healthcare management 

Doctors and nurses are often the face of healthcare, but behind the scenes is an entire workforce of healthcare managers working to make sure that offices, facilities and hospitals run smoothly. Some professionals focus on developing strategic plans, ensuring regulatory compliance, overseeing financial management or allocating resources. Others manage patient-facing personnel, handle hiring or find opportunities to improve patient outcomes.

Healthcare organizations also need managers to oversee the deployment of technology and new equipment and to ensure accurate billing and record-keeping practices.

Overall, such contributions help ensure that patients receive the care they need and that healthcare organizations stay financially healthy. Here, we’ll take a closer look at what healthcare management entails, including available careers.

Types of degrees in healthcare management 

Many careers in healthcare management require a bachelor’s degree at a minimum. Degrees focused on the administrative and management aspects of the healthcare industry are designed to provide an understanding of the unique processes and requirements of this environment within a business context. Coursework includes a focus on financial operations, legal and regulatory considerations, and technologies specific to healthcare, such as electronic health record (EHR) systems.

You might wonder what can you do with a healthcare management bachelor’s degree. It’s useful for those entering the field, as it may prepare you with skills for this role. A master’s degree can expand your existing expertise or serve as a credential for a career change or a path forward to a new position, while a doctoral degree represents the highest level of achievement and skill.

At University of Phoenix, Mark Jόhannsson, DHSc, MPH, dean of the College of Health Professions, notes how UOPX teaches career-relevant skills for healthcare careers. “The College of Health Professions leverages the insights of our Industry Advisory Council to help ensure career skill relevancy in our coursework,” Johansson says.

Hard and soft skills for healthcare management 

Healthcare leadership positions require a wide range of skills, from industry-specific expertise to business knowledge. In addition to talents unique to each specialty, all careers with a healthcare management degree require some general abilities, including:

  • Systems thinking. This refers to the ability to view problems holistically to find innovative solutions to healthcare management challenges.
  • Compliance. Healthcare managers must understand the range of legal and regulatory issues and implications regarding patient care, safety and privacy; data security; and prescription medications.
  • Finance. Topics can include patient billing, medical coding, compliance, budgets and insurance issues, as well as strategic financial planning and investments for healthcare companies or physician offices.
  • Management. Healthcare managers and leaders must understand how to enforce relevant policies, handle accounting and budgeting for their units or departments, monitor employee and departmental performance for efficiency and effectiveness, and more.
  • Technology. Understanding the range of healthcare-related technologies, like EHR, clinical databases, telehealth applications and patient communication portals, and how to use them is essential.

In addition to those hard skills, healthcare managers need to develop soft skills to be successful in their roles. Some of the top skills required for careers in healthcare management include:

  • Communication. Managers must be able to share and understand often highly complex information with doctors, nurses, patients, insurance representatives, pharmacists and vendors. Professional speaking and writing skills are particularly important in healthcare, where misunderstandings can have serious consequences.
  • Organization and project management. Healthcare managers must be able to work on and monitor multiple priorities and tasks, from daily responsibilities to long-term projects.
  • Teamwork and collaboration. Managing healthcare offices and facilities requires working with clinicians, other staff members and third parties (such as insurers or pharmaceutical representatives) to plan projects and solve problems.

Assessing your knowledge of and experience with these hard and soft skills for healthcare management is a part of the job interview process. In fact, screening for such skills often informs common healthcare interview questions.

What are healthcare management careers? 

Healthcare management jobs vary widely in responsibility and scope. Positions in the field may include everything from making sure there are enough medical and office supplies for a medical practice to developing policies and programs for an entire hospital system.

Most fall under the general medical and health services managers category. Job descriptions and required education depend on factors like title, seniority and what kind of healthcare organization or facility the position serves.

As of May 2023, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that medical and health services managers earned between $67,900 and $216,750 (with a median of $110,680) annually. The career outlook from 2022 to 2032 is projected growth of 28% in this field (an expected 54,700 openings each year), according to BLS.

Knowing what careers exist in healthcare and health information management can help you plan your education. These are job categories you can expect to be prepared for with a healthcare management degree.

“Healthcare as an industry is constantly evolving,” Jόhannsson says. “I have personally seen firsthand the migration from paper charting to electronic health records, which positively impacted patient safety, billing and coding efficiency, and patient care, but I think the bigger impact to come is the integration of artificial intelligence algorithms into healthcare administration functions such as discharge planning, billing, occupancy rate anticipation, etc.”

Office manager 

Medical office managers work behind the scenes to ensure medical facilities run smoothly. This administrative position is typically not patient-facing but directly affects patient care. Office managers handle hiring, manage inventory and equipment purchases and maintenance, and oversee administrative and billing staff in a medical facility.

In a large hospital, an office manager may oversee a specific wing or department. In a smaller clinic or doctor’s office, the manager typically oversees the entire facility and ensures it has the staff, equipment and support services needed for daily operations. A bachelor’s degree may be preferred to ensure a familiarity with healthcare processes and requirements, but it’s not always required.

Practice manager 

Practice managers oversee day-to-day operations at a medical facility. Jobs are available in large hospitals, clinics, healthcare networks, independent practices and surgery centers.

In addition to managing administrative and financial aspects of daily healthcare operations, these non-patient-facing managers also ensure compliance with healthcare laws and adopt practices to ensure quality patient care. Compared to office managers, practice managers play a larger role in long-term strategies, policy adoption, talent acquisition and the establishment of standard procedures.

Practice managers typically need a bachelor’s degree in business, healthcare management, administration or a related field. 

Program manager 

Rather than overseeing an entire facility, program managers focus on specific initiatives. Program managers create plans, set benchmarks and come up with a budget for programs focused on wellness, diet and nutrition, stress management, disease prevention and other health topics. Though this job can involve hiring employees, it may also focus on selecting and deploying existing workers to provide healthcare to the target population through the program.

The specific qualifications for this profession can vary depending on the program. A degree in public health or healthcare administration may be necessary for overseeing community health programs. Studies in health information management or a more tech-oriented field might serve you better for projects involving the implementation of technology or building an EHR system.

Program managers have a direct impact on healthcare quality and outcomes, so they play a pivotal role in organizations and facilities. 

Health manager 

Medical and health services managers use tools like data analysis, healthcare policy evaluation, and procedure and policy planning to improve care and patient outcomes. They evaluate different components and personnel involved in diagnostic and treatment processes and outline how to deploy them for maximum efficiency, value and benefit.

In addition to planning and overseeing healthcare service processes, health managers often oversee hiring, staff scheduling, performance evaluation and use of equipment and supplies.

A degree in healthcare management or a related subject provides a knowledge base in medical practices and management techniques. Most health services managers hone their skills in entry-level administrative roles before moving into a leadership position.

Healthcare management frequently asked questions 

What skills do I need to succeed in healthcare management?  

Healthcare management necessitates a strong understanding of industry processes and requirements related to compliance, finance, administration and technology. Healthcare managers also need to be able to communicate detailed information, work with others and make sure projects run smoothly, on time and within budget.

Is an MBA required for a career in healthcare management?   

An MBA is not required to succeed in a healthcare administration management career. An MBA could, however, help those with an existing healthcare degree or a background in the field by providing skills and expertise in business processes. Some students opt for a dual Master of Health Administration/Master of Business Administration, which provides an in-depth education in both healthcare management and business operations. Knowing which jobs you can get with a healthcare management degree can help you decide if you want to earn an MBA.

What are the benefits of studying healthcare management?  

Healthcare is a highly complex and dynamic industry. Studying healthcare management gives you an understanding of its specific processes and requirements so you can successfully address its challenges. Whether you are managing a doctor’s office or responsible for an entire hospital department, a background in healthcare functions, operations and regulations will prepare you with skills needed for this career. Knowing what you can do with a healthcare management bachelor’s degree or a master’s is critical to deciding whether a degree in this field is right for you.

Pursuing a career in healthcare management 

Healthcare management can be a fulfilling career for those interested in working in the industry in a nonclinical role. Helping clinicians, streamlining processes and building health-related programs ultimately support better patient care and satisfaction as well as overall population health.

University of Phoenix offers multiple degree programs in health administration and management for various interests and goals, ranging from bachelor’s to doctoral degrees. The online format allows you to pursue your educational goals from wherever you are in a way that aligns with your personal and professional obligations.

If you’re seeking an undergraduate program, consider the Bachelor of Science in Health Administration or Bachelor of Science in Health Management. If you already have your bachelor’s degree, you might consider the Master of Health Administration or the Master of Health Administration/Master of Business Administration.

Knowing what you can do with a healthcare management degree can inspire you to pursue a fulfilling career in this dynamic field. Learn more about how you can earn a healthcare management degree at University of Phoenix.

Headshot of Michael Feder

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and its Writing Seminars program and winner of the Stephen A. Dixon Literary Prize, Michael Feder brings an eye for detail and a passion for research to every article he writes. His academic and professional background includes experience in marketing, content development, script writing and SEO. Today, he works as a multimedia specialist at University of Phoenix where he covers a variety of topics ranging from healthcare to IT.

Headshot of Mark Johannsson

ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Mark Jóhannsson is the Dean of the  College of Health Professions. He has a career spanning over 35 years of healthcare management, public health practice, higher education administration, teaching and clinical/behavioral research within corporate, community and academic settings. He has served as both an educational and keynote speaker, and he has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed and periodic literature.

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This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
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