What Are Healthcare Managers?
Healthcare managers work behind the scenes at medical facilities to ensure that quality care is delivered to patients. To accomplish this, these professionals -- also known as healthcare administrators or healthcare executives -- perform duties such as supervising staff, managing finances and keeping accurate medical records, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, healthcare managers keep abreast of the laws and regulations that govern the industry and enact policies that comply with these rules (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). For more information about the work that healthcare managers do, see our healthcare administration career page.
Healthcare Management Program Information
Students interested in earning healthcare management degrees can enroll in programs at public and private colleges and universities. Depending on which school they choose, they may have the option to complete their studies on campus or online. In some cases, they can pursue a hybrid program that blends both traditional and online healthcare management courses.
No matter how classroom content is delivered, students enrolled in healthcare management programs can expect to learn about the business of the healthcare industry and build leadership skills that can help them pursue a managerial role. Students also learn how to make decisions about finances, staffing, patient resources, and technology, as well as strategies for managing and motivating a workforce.
Healthcare Management Program Types
The following programs are available to those interested in pursuing work healthcare management positions:
- Associate Degree: An associate degree in healthcare management can generally be earned in two years of full-time study. This program is designed to introduce students to the field and give them a foundation for pursuing entry-level jobs or more advanced degrees. It provides instruction in the basics of healthcare operations, including accounting, communications and risk management.
- Bachelor's Degree: Full-time students can generally complete a bachelor's program in four years. This program can help prepare students for management positions in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare consulting firms. Students in this program learn about healthcare decision-making, ethical and legal issues in healthcare management, leadership theories, and healthcare finance.
- Master's Degree: This program is designed to strengthen students' knowledge of healthcare policy and leadership, and may help them take their career to the next level. Full-time students enrolled in this program can generally expect to finish their degree in two years. Master's programs cover topics such as financial management, healthcare marketing, and the role public policy plays in healthcare.
- Doctoral Degree: Doctoral programs in healthcare management may be a good option for professionals seeking top-level executive roles or teaching and research opportunities. Students study the most advanced concepts in healthcare management and methods for conducting original healthcare research. Depending on the program, doctoral degrees in healthcare management could take upwards of seven years or more to earn.
Healthcare Management Course Descriptions
Although programs vary from school to school, students can generally expect to take healthcare management courses designed to familiarize them with basic concepts of the field. The following are examples of courses commonly included in the core curriculum of healthcare management programs.
- Healthcare Law: Explores the local, state and federal regulations that govern the healthcare management industry and how healthcare facilities can comply with those laws.
- Financial Management: Gives students a foundation for managing the financial activities of a healthcare organization, and shows them how financial principles influence the way health facilities are run.
- Healthcare Marketing: Provides an understanding of how marketing concepts and strategies can be applied to the healthcare field.
- Epidemiology and Public Health: Teaches how diseases are transmitted, tracked, controlled and prevented, and the role public health policy plays in educating patients about illnesses.
- Leadership in Healthcare Organizations: Examines the leadership principles healthcare management professionals follow in order to supervise workers.
- Healthcare Informatics: Teaches students about the technologies commonly used in the healthcare field, such as patient records systems.
Related Career Options
Individuals interested in healthcare management schools may want to consider educational paths that could lead to similar careers, such as:
- Social and Community Service Managers: Spearhead social service programs to ensure they effectively and efficiently serve their communities. Require bachelor's degree and several years of work experience.
- Human Resources Managers: Manage relations with prospective and current employees of an organization by recruiting, hiring, and training workers. Require at least a bachelor's degree, as well as several years of professional experience.
Links to Sources and Associations
For more information about healthcare management programs, careers and organizations, visit the following websites: