Healthcare Management Degree

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Behind the bustling hallways of clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities, there’s a different team working: those in healthcare management, who are tasked with keeping the wheels turning smoothly. They’re in charge of a multitude of responsibilities designed to coordinate and manage scheduling, budgeting, making sure health regulations are being followed, and staying on top of industry developments that provide for optimum patient care.

A healthcare management degree is required for this field; some employers require a master’s degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, entry-level positions are at the bachelor’s level and a full 32 percent of healthcare managers hold a bachelor’s degree. Another 22.8 percent have earned their master’s degree in healthcare, and eight percent have earned a doctoral or professional degree. While over 12 percent are employed with only an associate’s degree it is the exception rather than the norm. The average healthcare manager has worked five years in the field before being hired or promoted to their position. Here’s a look at healthcare management degrees:

Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Management

While a bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to complete many in this education venue already hold an associate’s degree and are continuing their education, which will take up to two years of full time classes. Since those who choose to earn their healthcare management degree are often already working in the health industry they opt for an online bachelor’s degree program, which gives them flexibility in where and when they complete their class work.

At this level, degree work primarily focuses on strategic communication techniques and the skills needed for entry level positions. Typical subjects are health industry regulations, sound management practices, issues of leadership, caring for patients’ personal information, and dispute resolution among employees. The program will usually include up to a year working under supervision in a healthcare setting.

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Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management

Choosing to earn your master’s degree in healthcare management opens a wider range of studies. Often those who choose this path are already employed in health administration, health management, business administration, nursing, or health information. Again, online studies are popular because of employment commitments as online degrees allow the student to work at their own pace when their schedule allows instead of committing to attend a traditional school and adhere to rigid classroom schedules. A master’s degree in healthcare management typically takes a year to two years, which may include on the job training.

In a master’s degree program you’ll combine business courses with medical courses to round out your education. While the specific curriculum will depend on your school of choice typical classes will be health information systems, hospital organization, strategic planning, and health economics. Medical terminology, law and ethics, accounting, budgeting, human resources administration, and health services management are other standard classes for this degree path.

A master’s degree in healthcare management program will place emphasis on the evolving healthcare industry, in depth studies of healthcare policies and law, industry finances pertaining to patient care and billing, human resources, and organizational behavior.

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Career Growth

With the healthcare industry in flux due to changing insurance regulations, medical breakthroughs and the projected upsurge in need due to the aging baby boomer population, a healthcare management degree will be a valuable asset to anyone employed in the healthcare industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a job growth of 17 percent for health managers, which is far more than the average for all occupations. Choosing this degree will mean you will be in high demand no matter where you reside, so job security may be a key factor for earning your degree.

The Career Ladder

One of the biggest advantages of choosing a healthcare management degree is that you can begin work in the healthcare industry in an entry-level position and work your way up the corporate ladder as you continue your education. Here are some typical entry level positions for those pursuing a career as a healthcare manager:

  • Medical records and health information technician
  • Medical and health services manager
  • Medical insurance claims investigator and examiner
  • Receptionist
  • Administrative assistant

Besides hospitals, nursing homes and clinics, those with a healthcare management degree are qualified for many other diverse careers such as the following:

  • Community service manager
  • Insurance underwriter
  • Community health educator
  • Assisted living manager or administrator
  • Clinical director
  • Practice administrator
  • Health & social service Manager
  • Office manager
  • Medical records manager

Once you’ve earned your degree and have a few years of experience in healthcare management you may seek a higher position within the healthcare corporate world. Typically a healthcare manager can advance to these types of positions:

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO)
  • Chief Information Officer (CIO)
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Usually moving into a top executive position will be determined by the specialization of your career. For example, if you work as a health information manager your ultimate goal might be the Chief Information Officer position as one of the top executives in the corporation.

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