A master's degree in one of a number of fields is the standard credential for
most generalist positions as a medical or healthcare manager. A bachelor's
degree is sometimes adequate for entry-level positions in smaller facilities and
departments. In physicians' offices and some other facilities, on-the-job
experience may substitute for formal education.
Education and training. Medical and health
services managers must be familiar with management principles and practices. A
master's degree in health services administration, long-term care
administration, health sciences, public health, public administration, or
business administration is the standard credential for most generalist positions
in this field. However, a bachelor's degree is adequate for some entry-level
positions in smaller facilities, at the departmental level within healthcare
organizations, and in health information management. Physicians' offices and
some other facilities hire those with on-the-job experience instead of formal
Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs in health administration
are offered by colleges; universities; and schools of public health, medicine,
allied health, public administration, and business administration. In 2008,
according to the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education,
there were 72 schools that had accredited programs leading to the master�s
degree in health services administration.
For people seeking to become heads of clinical departments, a degree in the
appropriate field and work experience may be sufficient early in their career.
However, a master's degree in health services administration or a related field
might be required to advance. For example, nursing service administrators
usually are chosen from among supervisory registered nurses with administrative
abilities and graduate degrees in nursing or health services administration.
Health information managers require a bachelor's degree from an accredited
program. In 2008, there were 48 accredited bachelor's degree programs and 5
master's degree programs in health information management, according to the
Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management
Some graduate programs seek students with undergraduate degrees in business
or health administration; however, many graduate programs prefer students with a
liberal arts or health profession background. Candidates with previous work
experience in healthcare also may have an advantage. Competition for entry into
these programs is keen, and applicants need above-average grades to gain
admission. Graduate programs usually last between 2 and 3 years. They may
include up to 1 year of supervised administrative experience and coursework in
areas such as hospital organization and management, marketing, accounting and
budgeting, human resources administration, strategic planning, law and ethics,
biostatistics or epidemiology, health economics, and health information systems.
Some programs allow students to specialize in one type of facility—hospitals,
nursing care facilities, mental health facilities, or medical groups. Other
programs encourage a generalist approach to health administration education.
Licensure. All States and the District of
Columbia require nursing care facility administrators to have a bachelor's
degree, pass a licensing examination, complete a State-approved training
program, and pursue continuing education. Some States also require licenses for
administrators in assisted-living facilities. A license is not required in other
areas of medical and health services management.
Certification and other qualifications.
Medical and health services managers often are responsible for facilities and
equipment worth millions of dollars, and for hundreds of employees. To make
effective decisions, they need to be open to different opinions and good at
analyzing contradictory information. They must understand finance and
information systems and be able to interpret data. Motivating others to
implement their decisions requires strong leadership abilities. Tact, diplomacy,
flexibility, and communication skills are essential because medical and health
services managers spend most of their time interacting with others.
Health information managers who have a bachelor's degree or post
baccalaureate degree from an approved program and who pass an exam can earn
certification as a Registered Health Information Administrator from the American
Health Information Management Association.
Advancement. Medical and health services
managers advance by moving into more responsible and higher paying positions,
such as assistant or associate administrator, department head, or chief
executive officer, or by moving to larger facilities. Some experienced managers
also may become consultants or professors of healthcare management.
New graduates with master's degrees in health services administration may
start as department managers or as supervisory staff. The level of the starting
position varies with the experience of the applicant and the size of the
organization. Hospitals and other health facilities offer postgraduate
residencies and fellowships, which usually are staff positions. Graduates from
master's degree programs also take jobs in large medical group practices,
clinics, mental health facilities, nursing care corporations, and consulting
Graduates with bachelor's degrees in health administration usually begin as
administrative assistants or assistant department heads in larger hospitals.
They also may begin as department heads or assistant administrators in small
hospitals or nursing care facilities.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
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Health Services Management Employment
Health Services Management Training
Health Services Management Job Outlook
Health Services Management Income