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Healthcare Management Degree Programs

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It may be difficult for some people to think of hospitals or health care facilities as businesses, but it's a crucial mindset for someone going into a health care management career. Health care management includes different leadership jobs in health care, including health services manager, hospital administrator, health care strategist and much more.

A number of different health care management programs exist, from certificates to master's degrees. These programs teach students how to manage hospitals, doctor's offices and other health care organizations. Health care management schools typically provide training in subjects such as health information systems, budget strategy, ethics relating to the field and how to manage a health care staff.

Health Care Management Programs

With health care management positions, you don't typically start from the bottom and move your way up, as is the case with some other management professions. You usually need at least a bachelor's degree, which typically takes four years to complete. Some professionals have even entered the field with a certificate or associate's degree, which can take anywhere from one to three years to complete. A growing number of people are earning master's degrees in health care management, which typically takes two years to complete. Some programs allow students to specialize in a certain type of facility, such as hospitals or nursing care homes.

A few courses in health care management programs may include:

  • Medical Terminology -- this course teaches students how to pronounce, spell and apply medical terms, as well as read and interpret medical records and reports.
  • Health Care Financial Management -- in this course, students delve into the basics of financial and managerial accounting, learning how to make wise financial decisions that are crucial for a well-functioning health care facility. Students may also learn about the current financial environment of different health care facilities.
  • Managing Information in Health Care -- this is a more technical course, where students learn how to strategically utilize information technology (IT) in health care organizations.
  • Legal Aspects of Health Care Management -- though many health care facilities have lawyers, health care leaders often take this course to learn employment law procedures, ethical decision-making frameworks, and risk management principles.
Some health care management schools may require supervised administrative experience at a health care organization as part of the program.

Certification and Licensure

In most areas of health care management, licensure is not required. However, all states require nursing care facility administrators to be licensed and some states require assisted living administrators to be licensed. For both types of positions requiring a license, requirements vary by state, but often include completing a bachelor's degree and a state-approved training program, as well as passing a licensing exam.

Careers and Salary Information

Health care management degrees and certificates often prepare students for different leadership roles at health care organizations, the main one being a medical and health service manager. The work environment for medical and health service managers varies between health care organizations. For example, while an emergency room is often fast and stressful, a specialized doctor's office is typically more quiet.

Some job duties of a medical and health service manager may include:

  • Supervising a health care organization's employees, ranging from nurses to maintenance workers to those at the front desk
  • Administering a number of financial operations, including budget planning, accounting and financial reporting
  • Attending and running board meetings and facilitating communication between different departments and medical staff
  • Monitoring the use of equipment, inpatient beds and diagnostic services, assessing the need to purchase further equipment and tools
A health care management salary can be one of the best perks of the job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2012 the national mean annual wage of medical and health services managers was $98,460. The profession is projected to grow by 22 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS, which is faster than average for all occupations.

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics
Cornell University: College of Human Ecology: Why Pursue A Career in Health Management?
Franklin University: Healthcare management
Harvard University: School of Public Health: Master of Science in Health Care Management
O*Net Online: Medical and Health Services Managers
Southern New Hampshire University: BS Healthcare Management Online Degree
U.S. News & World Report: Best Healthcare Management Programs


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