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How to Become a Medical & Health Services Manager/Healthcare Administrator

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A career in health care is one of the most rewarding out there. Professionals in the field have the opportunity to boost the economy, help people get better, and carry out innovative research. But not everyone is cut out to provide medical services. Working as a health care manager is an excellent option for those passionate about the medical industry but who do not want to become healthcare practitioners. People with a management, administration, or nursing background will find healthcare management rewarding. While health services managers seldom have one-on-one contact with patients, they play a major role in delivering healthcare services. Here, we look at the steps on how to become a medical and health services manager, the salary structure, and all you need to know about the career path.

What is Health Services Management?

Health services management, also known as healthcare management, involves supervising a healthcare facility, such as a clinic or hospital. The person in charge is a healthcare manager who ensures that the facility runs smoothly in terms of community needs, healthcare practitioners’ satisfaction, and budget.

Health Care Management Vs. Health Care Administration

Every so often, these two terms are interchanged. While there are similarities in the roles, they are different designations. The most significant difference is that while healthcare managers supervise the operation of an entire healthcare facility, the healthcare administrator is only responsible for staff welfare. For instance, a healthcare manager might decide that the facility needs another staff member to help deliver effective services. However, it is the healthcare administrator who is in charge of the actual hiring process.

Other differences between the two roles are education and required skills. Most employers prefer healthcare management candidates to possess a degree specific to healthcare management. Administrators have less rigorous requirements, although a Master of Business Administration or Master of Health Administration is preferable.

What is a Medical and Health Services Manager?

A medical and health services manager is a trained professional who coordinates the affairs of a healthcare facility. Medical and health services managers ensure that the facility delivers efficient and top-notch medical services under their control. In the course of their careers, they may have to use their excellent administrative prowess to manage entire facilities or special units.

Health care managers also serve as spokespersons and handle media responsibilities whenever the need arises. The role requires working with medical staff on relevant issues such as goal planning, budgeting, and medical equipment maintenance.

Duties of a Medical and Health Services Manager

Health services managers perform many duties in their organization, and the responsibility varies from one workplace to another. The basic duties of a medical and health services manager are to ensure that staff is satisfied and motivated, patients get quality healthcare services, and general operations run smoothly.

These are some of the responsibilities of a healthcare manager:

Maintaining Budgets

Apart from overseeing operations in a healthcare facility, a medical and health services manager must balance the business side of things. This includes managing the organization’s budgets and meeting financial goals without compromising standards.

Managing Staff

A medical and health services manager oversees staff hiring, training, and welfare. They have to possess stellar leadership qualities to perform in this role effectively. Another angle of managing staff is keeping them motivated and satisfied.

Creating and Executing Policies

The manager always communicates with staff, executives of the organization, and patients. As a result, they are in the best position to formulate policies that can shape the organization.

Coordinating Healthcare Delivery

Although healthcare managers do not partake in medical duties, such as administering drugs, they play a huge role in determining how the organization offers care. Health services managers collaborate with medical professionals to outline the organization’s best long and short-term healthcare strategies.

Other day to day responsibilities of a healthcare manager includes:

  • Ensuring that nursing departments and units are updated and comply with the latest legal policies and laws.
  • Attending periodic board meetings.
  • Guiding several units through individual projects simultaneously.
  • Setting goals for multiple departments and preparing for possible challenges.
  • Keeping tabs with insurance agents.

Depending on the nature of the workplace, they might also have additional administrative responsibilities such as:

  • Recording equipment, supplies, and tools.
  • Coordinating employee schedule.
  • Managing the fees and billing of patients.
  • Finding solutions to challenges that may arise.
  • Providing periodic reports to board members or investors.

Skills for Medical and Health Services Managers

Professionals in the medical and health services management field need a wide range of skills to thrive. Each role requires a dynamic set of skills, given that they may work in clinics, community health organizations, hospitals, and other healthcare organizations.

Some of the most vital skills include:

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Medical and health services managers often interact with healthcare professionals, people in the community, board members, other professionals, and government officials. They need solid communication skills, including writing, public speaking, and listening. In addition, they need good interpersonal skills to work with other team members and medical professionals.

Attention To Detail

Healthcare managers have to schedule, administer budgets, and address sensitive issues, requiring focus and excellent detail orientation.

Management and Administration

Much of a health services manager’s time goes into supervising teams and managing budgets. Management is a vital skill to succeed in their careers.

Time Management and Organization

Healthcare managers have to deal with many responsibilities every day, some of which might be unplanned. As such, they must be able to manage their time and that of others properly.

Analysis and Decision-Making

A medical health services manager must have the ability to comprehend and interpret data, which is then broken down to others. This includes evaluating new industry regulations and applying them to the organization. They also should possess excellent decision-making skills, as they call the shots.

Compassion

Sometimes, medical and health services managers have to work with populations going through challenges, such as substance abuse, homelessness, and mental health issues. They must be compassionate and willing to help others recover.

Problem-Solving

Medical and health services managers often have to identify dynamic problems and create practical solutions.

Medical and health services managers need to stay updated with the latest changes, policies, protocols, procedures, and regulations in the medical field. They also have to ensure that the organization complies with industry regulations.

Steps to Becoming a Medical and Health Services Manager

This list will help you with the step-by-step guide on how to become a medical and health services manager.

1. Get a Bachelor’s Degree

After high school, earning a bachelor’s degree is essential for those looking to get into the profession, as earning a bachelor’s arms candidates with the requisite skills and knowledge for the role. Degrees such as healthcare management or healthcare administration are relevant to this field, but students can also consider public health, nursing, public administration, and business administration.

Some of the coursework in these degrees include topics such as:

  • Research
  • Ethics
  • Healthcare information systems
  • Analytics
  • Legal issues, regulations, standards, and policies
  • Financial management

While searching for different colleges, it is advisable to go for an institution with accreditation from the Associations of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA). Not all medical and health services manager roles require it, but getting an AUPHA approved degree makes it easier to apply to certain positions.

2. Gain Experience

Relevant experience in the field can greatly improve your resume and demonstrate your ability to handle similar roles. Searching for entry-level positions in healthcare facilities after graduating from an accredited university is advisable. The roles help shape your outlook and develop both your medical knowledge and administrative skills.

Some entry-level positions to consider include:

  • Medical assistant
  • Patient services representative
  • Healthcare human resources assistant
  • Administrative assistant
  • Medical records technician

3. Earn A Graduate Degree

With a bachelor’s degree, it is possible to get hired into medical and health services roles; however, many health facilities prefer a candidate with a graduate degree. Some degrees to consider include a Master’s of Public Health Administration and a Master’s of Health Administration. Going a step further in your educational pursuit equips you with more skills and knowledge and shows your expertise for the position.

Many colleges also offer public or business administration degrees concentrating on health services management.

Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable DHA Online (Doctorate in Healthcare Administration)

4. Get Certified

Certifications are not always required for medical and health services manager positions; however, some employers prefer candidates with one. It is important to note that nursing homes require a credential, and the most common is the Licensed Nursing Home Administrator (LNHA), administered by the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA).

Even if a certification is not required for a particular role, it is still beneficial for future purposes and the skills you gain.

Where Can I Work With A Healthcare Management Degree?

There are so many opportunities for work for individuals with a healthcare management degree. Some of the possible workplaces include:

  • Home healthcare facility
  • Hospital
  • Assisted living facility
  • College or University
  • Consulting practice
  • Government agency
  • Ambulatory health facility
  • Emergency medical services facility
  • Hospice
  • Health care association
  • Health care clinic
  • Pharmaceutical company
  • IT department or Hospital
  • Laboratory or research setting
  • Nursing home
  • Mental health facility
  • Health insurance company
  • Rehabilitation center
  • Public health agency
  • Physician’s office
  • Managed care company

Possible Job Titles for Medical and Health Services Manager

Job titles for medical and health services manager roles can vary from one workplace to another, especially in specialized facilities. The responsibility of the position can also play a big role in the job title. Some of the roles include:

Clinical Manager

A clinical manager is concerned with the business angle of clinical practice. They make decisions on scheduling and staffing. Clinical managers also create and implement new organizational policies and work with regulatory agencies, social services, and host communities.

The minimum requirement for this role is a bachelor’s degree. However, a master’s degree can improve your chances. An additional credential such as the Certified Medical Practice Executive (CMPE) administered by the American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE) can also help you stand out to potential employers. Professionals can also consider the Certified Medical Management (CMM) credential offered by the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM).

Healthcare Compliance Manager

The healthcare compliance manager makes sure that a healthcare facility meets legal and contractual expectations. They stay updated with the latest healthcare contracts, laws, policies, and regulations from different industry agencies and funding sources. When they discover new changes, healthcare compliance managers look for the best way to adapt and incorporate them into their operating procedures. They also ensure that staff is trained in line with the latest standards.

Professionals can apply with a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree. More and more employers are raising the bar for requirements. So possessing a professional would be beneficial. Healthcare compliance managers can choose from five different compliance credentials offered by the Compliance Certification Board (CCB).

Nursing Home Administrator

Professionals in this position manage nursing home facilities. They oversee the personnel, finances, processes, and compliance in the nursing home. Since nursing homes serve as living communities and healthcare dispensaries, administrators have to double as resident advocates when the need arises. They also function as a link between staff, patients, and their families to bridge any communication gaps and ensure policy compliance.

The minimum requirement for this role is a bachelor’s degree in health services management or any other related field. However, many large nursing homes require additional education. Irrespective of location, professionals must be licensed by the National Association of Long Term Care Administration Boards (NAB).

Related Resource: How to Become a Gerontological Counselor: A Complete Guide

Healthcare Consultant

Unlike other roles in the field, healthcare consultants are not tied to one medical facility or organization. They work with multiple healthcare facilities for an agreed period, after which they recommend strategies to improve overall efficiency. These professionals conduct interviews, run simulations, analyze data and liaise with new information technology dealers to identify areas for improvement.

Healthcare can also be instrumental during technological implementations and administration transitions. The primary objective is to provide leadership of healthcare facilities with the right tools and data to manage the company successfully. Since they are working on a contract, the requirements for healthcare consultant roles are not very strict. Every facility has its own requirement, but candidates must have a good understanding of the healthcare industry.

Most healthcare consultants have a master’s degree in healthcare management and related fields. There are also certification options from the National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants (NSCHBC).

Health Information Manager

Professionals with this title concentrate on data. They ensure that data is properly gathered, arranged, and implemented. Health information managers also manage and implement new data systems and maintain the organization’s information storage regulations. The role also demands that they educate staff on the facility’s data policies and supervise data storage in the organization.

A bachelor’s degree is required for this role, but most employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree. It is vital that candidates for this role have experience or formal training in information technology. There are six categories of certifications administered by the American Health Information Management System (AHIMA) for professionals.

Social and Community Service Managers

This role is quite different from most of the others listed above. Social and community service managers are concerned with health issues outside healthcare facilities. It is common to find them working for government agencies and non-profit organizations.

Their role revolves around the creation and implementation of community outreach programs. The projects may involve support for cancer patients, HIV-positive patients, people struggling with debilitating diseases, and those trying to overcome alcoholism or substance abuse. Professionals can also promote healthcare issues such as the importance of safe sex, cancer prevention, and proper nutrition.

Requirements for this role vary from one workplace to another. Small-scale organizations generally go for social and community service managers with a bachelor’s degree or even those with relevant experience. On the other hand, organizations with huge projects prefer candidates with a master’s degree. There are no license or certificate requirements; however, becoming a member of the National Association of Nonprofit Professionals (NANPP) can be very helpful.

Related Resource: How to Become Social and Human Service Assistant

Work Experience for Medical and Health Services Managers

Most employers prefer candidates for medical and health services manager roles who have work experience. The experience is preferably in clinical or administrative roles in a hospital or any healthcare facility. Nursing home administrators typically switch from a registered nursing career; therefore, they have years of experience. Experience as a financial clerk, administrative assistant, and medical and health information technician at a healthcare office also counts.

Licensing Requirements for Medical and Health Services Managers

Most medical and health services management positions do not require a license. However, some employers expect that candidates are registered as either social workers or registered nurses. Nursing home administration roles are an exception, though, as each state requires that professionals are registered through the National Association of Long-Term Care Administration Boards (NAB).

Licensing requirements for nursing home administrators vary from one state to another. The general expectation is that candidates have a bachelor’s degree, complete an authorized training program, and take a national exam before qualifying. In some states, an additional exam is administered in addition to some years of professional working experience.

As every state has different licensing requirements, candidates need to review the expectations before applying for the license. You can check out the state-by-state licensure requirements to help you determine what is needed.

Work Environment for Medical and Health Services Manager

The Bureau of Labor Services estimated around 429,800 jobs as of May 2020 for medical and health service managers. Local, state, and private hospitals hired 33% of the total number, while physicians’ offices came next with 12% of that number.

Medical and health services managers typically work full time. Most professionals put in more than 40 hours of work every week, and they might have to work at weekends and in the evenings in nursing homes and hospitals. They are also needed on standby in emergency cases.

Salary/Job Outlook for Medical and Health Services Manager

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Services (BLS), medical and health services managers earned an average of $104,280 in May 2020. This is higher than the national average for all occupations at $41,950, and the average for other management occupations is $95,180.

The top 10% in the profession earned above $195,630 annually, while those at the bottom 10% earned below $59,980 on average yearly.

The top industries for medical and health services managers and their wages are as follows:

IndustrySalary
Government$116,380
Hospitals; state, local, and private$112,870
Outpatient care centers$100,690
Offices of Physicians$94,240
Nursing and residential care facilities$89,880

The BLS also predicts that the employment rate for medical and health services managers will shoot up by a whopping 32% in the decade between 2020 and 2030. This rate is four times faster than the national average at 8%. There should be 51,800 job openings for medical and health services managers in that period, with most coming from the need to replace aging workers or those switching professions.

Another good indicator for medical and health services managers is that as the baby-boom generation continues to age, they’ll need more healthcare services. This implies that there’ll be a rise in the number of healthcare facilities, physicians, and other healthcare personnel, resulting in a higher demand for medical and health services managers.

The biggest beneficiaries of this demand will be healthcare managers with health information technology knowledge. This is because electronic health records (EHRs) will be widely accepted and used in more healthcare facilities. Health services managers will be needed to manage and implement these records in the industry.

Related Resource: Highest Paying Healthcare Careers by Degree Level

Next Step

If you need any motivation to get started, there you have it. The outlook for medical and health services manager positions is juicy and can only get better in the coming years. Additionally, professionals in this job have a real chance to help people and communities at large. Visit our education resource page to learn more about jobs in the healthcare sector and other management roles that might interest you.

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