Master’s in Healthcare Management
A master’s in healthcare management is an advanced degree that concentrates on the in-depth study of business and managerial topics related to the health care system. The degree is intended for students interested in pursuing executive level positions in healthcare. The completion of an undergraduate degree is a prerequisite, though not necessarily in a healthcare concentration. Graduates who earn a master’s in healthcare management are prepared to take on critical, decision-making roles in a wide range of healthcare environments.
Master’s in Healthcare Management vs. MBA in Healthcare Management
A master’s in healthcare management often is confused with an MBA in Healthcare Management. While either degree can help you obtain a leadership position in the healthcare industry, there are differences in focus and approach. Prospective students should understand how these two options differ before choosing a program.
A master’s in healthcare management examines business topics from the unique perspective of the healthcare industry. Case studies, projects, practicum, and internships typically involve real-world healthcare applications. Students gain knowledge in complex areas such as government regulation, medical record keeping and professional ethics, all of which have specific implications in healthcare.
An MBA in healthcare management provides an education in advanced core business concepts, though from a different perspective. This degree is structured as a business degree with a concentration in healthcare management. As such, it focuses more on business functions such as accounting, finance and organizational strategy–all of which are applicable across many industries. Healthcare studies are secondary to the general business perspective of the curriculum.
What is the curriculum for a Master’s in Healthcare Management?
A Master’s in healthcare management involves a comprehensive examination of the organization, laws, policies, and issues related to the healthcare system. The multi-disciplinary curriculum is studied from the healthcare perspective. Many schools offer the degree with options to complete some or all coursework online, allowing flexibility for working adults. Typical courses in a master’s in healthcare management include:
- Healthcare Law, Compliance, and Ethics
- Healthcare Information Systems Management
- Healthcare Financing
- Healthcare Operations
- Study of Providers and Payers
- Medical Devices and Diagnostics
- Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals
Some master’s in healthcare management programs require the completion of a practicum or hands-on educational experience. Students participating in online programs usually are permitted to complete their on-site requirements locally.
What are possible career options with a Master’s in Healthcare Management?
A master’s in healthcare management often is a prerequisite for upper level positions in the healthcare industry. Students from clinical and nonclinical backgrounds can use the degree to pursue their interests and gain promotions. Graduates possess a broad range of knowledge necessary to become leaders and decision-makers in many types of healthcare businesses, agencies and facilities. They can succeed in jobs where they will play a major role in affecting policies and allocating resources in the healthcare industry.
A master’s in healthcare management could lead to leadership roles in these environments:
- Hospitals and clinics
- Rehabilitation facilities
- Senior care facilities
- Healthcare consulting firms
- Nonprofit healthcare organizations
- Physicians’ practices
- Health insurance companies
- Government regulatory agencies
What is it like to work in a position that requires a Master’s in Healthcare Management?
A master’s in healthcare management can lead to a wide range of opportunities in healthcare. Upon graduation, you’ll be qualified to pursue executive positions in jobs that touch every aspect of the healthcare system. With some investigation, you’ll likely be able to match your interests with a position where you can make a difference in this dynamic and growing industry.
For example, you may consider a position as an administrator of a rehabilitation center. In this highly visible job, you would be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the facility. Your responsibilities would be comprehensive and include supervision over every department of the center. In a typical workday, you might do the following:
- Take a routine tour of the facility to ensure that regulations, policies, and procedures are being followed
- Develop a plan for resolution of any facility problems regarding problems noted during inspection
- Work with staff to develop and implement a facility marketing plan
- Attend a community health meeting to represent the facility and promote referrals
- Review financial statements regarding admissions, billing, collections, and other financials to ensure profitability
- Meet with families or patients to resolve concerns
- Discuss employee safety initiatives with facility department heads
Or, perhaps you’d rather work behind the scenes as a vice president of operations at a medical center. In this type of position, you would primarily consult with in-house managers and executives in overseeing the administrative activities involved with the delivery of patient services. In a typical workday, you might do the following:
- Negotiate a contract with a provider of medical equipment
- Complete the annual budget and devise plans for maintaining budgetary goals
- Review resource utilization with hospital department heads to ensure efficiency and reduce expenses
- Meet with contractor to discuss timeline for physical renovations
- Lead meeting of hospital committee on improving patient satisfaction
- Evaluate and recommend site choice for community satellite location
- Meet with chief operating officer (COO) to review options to increase facility productivity and performance
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If you have your bachelor’s degree in an area other than healthcare management but want to move into the field—or if you’re just ready to climb the healthcare management career ladder—get started researching master’s level programs from accredited colleges and universities today.
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