- "Medical and Health Services Managers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-6
What Does it Mean to Study Health Care Management?
Healthcare management professionals may work as administrators, managers, CEOs, planners and more. Individuals who choose to pursue this career path tend to be sympathetic, caring personality types with an honest desire to help others. However, the desire to help others is not enough on its own. Being able to organize and knowing how to apply wholesome, constructive leadership are also important qualities of healthcare managers. The most effective healthcare professionals use their knowledge and skills to deliver the most positive experience possible for patients and staff members alike.
Types of Healthcare Management Degrees
Certificate programs in healthcare management tend to be aimed at nurses, physical therapists and other trained professionals who wish to move into supervisory- or management-oriented roles. A certificate program in healthcare management can also be helpful for physicians wishing to open their own practice or healthcare facility, helping them to build the business skills required by such a complex venture.
While earning a certificate is a mark of accomplishment all on its own, the courses taken as part of a certificate program can often be credited toward future degrees, helping students to earn a degree such as an MBA or a Bachelor of Science in healthcare management.
An associate degree in healthcare management focuses on fundamental financial, leadership, and organizational skills that are applicable to general business settings. It also acquaints students with skills specific to the healthcare industry. Often, the classes taken while pursuing an associate degree can later be applied toward the pursuit of a bachelor's or other advanced degree.
Bachelor of Science Degrees
For students interested in dedicating themselves to healthcare administration, a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management can be instrumental. This degree offers in-depth instruction regarding the ins and outs of managing a healthcare facility. Students learn general business management and develop the skills they'll need to take on a leadership role in one of the many types of healthcare facilities, including doctors' offices, hospitals, special care facilities, and more. Professionals with this level of education demonstrate an advanced level of competence and are often promoted into jobs with higher salaries and advanced responsibilities.
What Can You Do With a College Degree in Healthcare Management?
Below are just a few of the numerous opportunities for healthcare management professionals.
Hospital executives are the backbone for hospital services and facilities. They are responsible for running their facility smoothly and successfully, striving for optimal patient care and site services. Hospital executives develop their medical facilities by hiring doctors and nurses, creating comfortable patient surroundings and ordering important medical equipment. Technological advances, human resource developments, legalities and patient care techniques are all the domain of the hospital executive.
Group Practice Executives
Group practice executives, like hospital executives, create a positive healthcare experience for clients via clean, pleasant facilities, strong organizational leadership, and financial savvy. However, the group practice executive must possess human resource skills as well, with the goal of creating an environment that results in the least amount of physician turnover possible. Higher physician turnover rates result in higher costs and less consistent patient care.
Rather than working for one individual facility, healthcare consultants cultivate a complete and thorough understanding of the healthcare industry as a whole. They offer their knowledge and organizational ability to a wide range of facilities on an as-needed basis. Healthcare consultants must develop knowledge of the foundations of healthcare management, skill at analyzing trends and data, and the ability to design and implement special projects for a variety of facilities.
Consultants' unique abilities to enter the scene of a new facility, to organize special projects, and to train staff make them a valuable commodity in the hot healthcare market. Also, since healthcare consultants will often work for different facilities and facility types on a project-to-project basis, they experience a unique perspective on the many organizational styles and trends within the healthcare industry. Consultants use that knowledge to benefit the patients of many facilities rather than just one.
Home Healthcare Administrators
The home healthcare administrator offers not just healthcare, but also independence to patients who may otherwise have to leave behind their homes to enter group care. These professionals must possess extremely effective organizational skills in order to juggle the demands of patients, government agencies, financial auditors and staff members. An administrator covers every managerial aspect of home care, including staffing, financial concerns and scheduling.
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Administrators
Emergency medical services (EMS) administrators coordinate with hospitals and state agencies to supply aid in an emergency situation. EMS administrators coordinate emergency response communication and resources within their geographic area of responsibilities, organizing ambulances and emergency personnel to be ready and waiting as necessary to help those who may find themselves in need.
Public Health Planners
Using skills learned in advanced degree programs, public health plannersutilize the many informational tools at their disposal to design effective health programs for their communities. Often called upon to analyze a combination of statistical data, community study results, input from physicians and nurses, and various other resources, public health planners develop beneficial health programs and initiatives that affect a wide range of individuals.
A career as a public health planner can be incredibly gratifying, for the right initiatives can improve people's lives by helping community members to live in a fuller and healthier manner. This is also one of the most dynamic and challenging career paths in the healthcare field. The healthcare planner must be able to constantly predict and adjust to consumer and healthcare trends. A health planner may work as part of a team one day and be alone with his research the next. Using a combination of research skills, problem-solving ability, expertise and compassion, public health planners are able to benefit individuals and communities alike.
Managers of Patient Safety
Managers of patient safety take on one of the most vital roles in the healthcare industry. The patient safety manager ensures that facility staff carries out patient treatment in a safe manner and in compliance with all applicable state and federal regulations. Patient safety managers must possess the ability to predict and avoid possible future problems. By identifying potential issues, healthcare professionals in this field give patients the assurance they need to feel as comfortable as possible in unfamiliar and potentially intimidating surroundings.
Healthcare Management Certification, Licensure, and Associations
While requirements vary from state to state, healthcare management professionals generally must obtain licensure only in specific circumstances. Within the healthcare management field, a license may be required for professionals who wish to open their own facilities. Most states also require nursing homes and long-term care providers to obtain licenses.
To qualify for a license, professionals must meet a series of requirements. Most licensing bodies require a bachelor's degree in some aspect of healthcare. Aside from a degree, a series of licensure courses may be required. Many colleges and universities offer the required courses as part of their degree programs. Working professionals may enjoy the convenience of learning sites specifically developed to meet licensure requirements, and some online colleges and universities have responded to the needs of working professionals by offering distance learning opportunities to aid in this pursuit. However, even for those working outside those specific aspects of healthcare, there are many advantages that come with certificates of recognition and credentials.
Several professional organizations offer board certification in healthcare management, typically based on a combination of education, professional experience, and an examination. Perhaps the best- known credentials in the healthcare management field are the designations of Certified Healthcare Executive (CHE) and of Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). Both titles carry national recognition and are bestowed by The American College of Healthcare Executives.
Additionally, the National Association for Healthcare Quality grants the title Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) to professionals deemed worthy of recognition. Another board with the ability to grant credentials is The American College of Medical Practice Executives, which grants the title of Certified Medical Practice Executive (CMPE). Board certification and recognition demonstrates a high level of commitment and expertise in the healthcare management field.