Individuals pursuing their bachelor's degree online have an opportunity to learn about the many aspects of healthcare systems and management. They take classes in a variety of subject areas, such as economics and policy, and work toward what is usually offered as a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in healthcare management. Full-time students typically take four years to earn their degree.
Online bachelor's degree in healthcare management: coursework and overview
Students seeking a bachelor's degree in healthcare management take a combination of general education, core major and elective classes. The curriculum varies by program, but some commonly required classes are shown below, with some of the topics that students may encounter.
Healthcare management degree courses
- Healthcare Delivery: Courses provide an overview of the organization and function of the U.S. healthcare system, covering such topics as healthcare financing and policy.
- Health Information Systems: Studies offer an introduction to managing information systems and technology and evaluating their application to health care.
- Healthcare Marketing: Students in this course consider the role of marketing concepts and strategy in healthcare. Specific concepts that may apply include market segmentation and branding.
- Healthcare Economics: This subject generally covers applications of economic principles and governmental policy to healthcare. Topics of discussion could include supply and demand and health insurance.
- Healthcare Finance: Students review financial applications for healthcare, often examining such topics as cost effectiveness, reimbursement and capital budgeting.
Courses related to healthcare
- Financial Accounting: Students can learn how to construct and analyze financial statements, including balance sheets, income statements and statements of cash flows. Classes often cover the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
- Organizational Behavior: This subject analyzes social relationships and behavior in workplace settings, generally in regards to topics such as motivation, group behavior and leadership.
- Statistics: Students examine an array of statistical concepts and calculations, typically including regression, sampling and probability.
Potential careers for individuals with a bachelor's degree in healthcare management
Coursework can help students gain skills and knowledge that could be relevant to a variety of careers. While a degree cannot guarantee employment, graduates may choose to apply their studies in healthcare management in career paths such as the following:
- Assistant administrators provide support for top administrators and may direct activities in clinical areas, such as surgery, health information, or nursing. Additional responsibilities could include developing work schedules and communicating with department heads and medical staff. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graduates of a health administration program may start out as administrative assistants or assistant department heads. Taking a course in healthcare delivery may help students interested in this career gain an understanding of the U.S. healthcare system.
- Clinical managers' specific tasks vary, depending on the department (e.g., physical therapy or nursing). Responsibilities could include assessing staff work as well as drafting budgets and reports. These professionals may also create and maintain department goals, procedures, and policies. Courses in management and organizational behavior could help aspiring managers develop useful skills for this field. Healthcare finance and accounting courses can also help prepare students for the budgeting aspect of this career.
- Health information managers maintain and oversee the security of patient records and are responsible for keeping databases accurate, complete, and available only to authorized personnel. These professionals must remain up-to-date on information technology and legal regulations regarding health information systems. Courses in health information systems and healthcare law could contribute useful background information for this career.
- Nursing home administrators manage staff, oversee building finances and admissions and help care for nursing home residents. They may also represent their facility at investor meetings. A healthcare finance class can introduce students to potentially relevant topics for this career, such as budgeting and cost effectiveness. The BLS states that nursing home administrators must be licensed.
After earning their bachelor's degree, graduates may wish to further their education in healthcare management with a master's degree. A bachelor's degree is the usual minimum qualification for medical and health services managers, but the BLS notes that master's degrees are common. While schools offer a traditional master's degree in healthcare management, the subject is also offered as an MBA concentration. Students should conduct further research and speak to an admissions counselor to determine which option is more suitable for them.
Further information on earning a bachelor's in healthcare management can be found in the Guide to College Majors in Healthcare Management.
American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, http://www.aaham.org/
"Medical and Health Services Managers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Management/Medical-and-health-services-managers.htm