Are you considering a career as a medical or health services manager? If you are interested in the administrative side of healthcare and have the skills necessary to plan, direct, and coordinate service delivery on a large scale, this may be an ideal career choice. Entering this field offers many benefits including good pay, sustained job security, and the opportunity to meaningfully impact the overall health of others. While these professionals do not always have direct contact with patients, they do work closely with many other medical specialists. Specific responsibilities can vary significantly from job to job, so it’s important to carefully review expectations prior to applying for employment in this field.
What is a Medical and Health Services Manager?
Sometimes referred to as healthcare executives, medical and health services managers usually oversee entire medical facilities, specific clinics, departments, or medical practices for groups of physicians. This generally means that their responsibilities are numerous and varied, ranging from simple clerical work to personnel oversight. While specific expectations depend on employer preferences and the scope of their position, common tasks include:
- Improving healthcare service delivery quality and efficiency
- Establishing facility/departmental goals and objectives
- Maintaining an organized record-keeping system
- Recruiting, training, and supervising staff members
- Creating weekly work schedules
- Managing operational budgets to remain within funding limits
- Assisting with patient fees and billing
- Representing the facility/department at investor meetings or on governing boards
- Communicating with medical staff members
- Ensuring legal compliance
Good communication skills are essential, as these professionals often work closely with other medical experts such as physicians, surgeons, registered nurses, technologists, and technicians. In some cases, they may be responsible for identifying potential improvement areas, developing corresponding training, and determining how to implement it throughout the facility or department. Interactions with patients are unlikely to be as prominent, but it might be necessary to resolve disputes or better understand patient needs.
As facility or departmental leaders, medical and health services managers are also responsible for adapting to changes in healthcare laws, regulations, and technology. This means they must be proficient at researching modern innovations and best practices in the healthcare field. Remaining well informed about the industry is essential to knowing when and how to adjust procedures accordingly.
These professionals may work for a wide variety of employers. While state, local, and private hospitals account for the majority of employment opportunities available, medical and health services managers can find jobs in physician offices, nursing homes, residential care facilities, outpatient care centers, and even the government.
Medical and Health Services Manager Education Requirements
Most people who plan to pursue a career as medical and health services managers will need, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. Degrees that place focus on both healthcare and management are generally best, as students will gain a better understanding of medical terminology, hospital organization, health information systems, and business and administration. The most common bachelor’s degrees used to enter the occupation include health administration, health management, nursing, public health administration, and business administration.
While most employers require an undergraduate degree in a related field, graduate degrees are generally preferred. Having a master’s can make a big difference during the hiring process and can help candidates with more education stand out.
For medical and health services managers, the first step is generally enrolling in an accredited undergraduate degree program. These usually consist of 120 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students around four years to complete. Those who plan to attend classes on a part-time basis should expect their graduation to be delayed for two to four more years.
As previously mentioned, there are several undergraduate degree options to choose from. Some of the most common include health administration, health management, nursing, public health administration, and business administration. In most cases, required coursework will consist of both major-specific and general liberal arts content. Every college and university is different, but topics covered frequently include the following.
- Human Resources Management
- Healthcare Finance and Accounting
- Healthcare Management
- Medical Terminology
- Public Health Law
- Health Policy
In addition to an undergraduate degree, prospective employers tend to expect candidates to have some prior work experience in the field. As a result, those who have been in administrative or clinical roles for several years are more likely to be hired as medical and health services managers.
Those who graduate from bachelor’s degree programs have a couple options. They can either try to find employment right away or begin pursuing a healthcare master’s degree. While having a graduate degree is not essential for becoming a medical or health services manager, it can provide a competitive edge over other applicants. Master’s programs usually consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Those attending classes part-time can anticipate graduating within three to four years.
There are a few different graduate-level degree options to consider. Some students choose to pursue a master’s of business administration (MBA) with a related concentration, while others prefer to pursue a master’s in healthcare administration. MBAs place more focus on the business side of healthcare, whereas terminal degrees in the field provide more instruction in healthcare policies. Every college and university is different, but topics covered frequently include the following.
- Healthcare Leadership
- Health Policy and Management
- Strategic Decision-Making
- Marketing Analysis and Planning
- Emergency Management
- Financing Healthcare
Again, having work experience in conjunction with a master’s degree can be beneficial when looking for medical or health services management positions. Unlike with an undergraduate program, however, students can be professionally employed and take classes at the same time. Online classes, in particular, provide the flexibility necessary to work toward a degree and gain experience at the same time.
Similar Roles in Medical and Health Services Management
Official job titles can vary significantly, especially between specialized facilities. This means that there are actually a number of professional roles related to medical and health services management that graduates may qualify for. The scope of the position (oversight of an entire facility versus a single department) will also have an impact on the title. Some of these roles include the following.
Clinical managers oversee the business side of clinical practice. This usually means they are responsible for making staffing and scheduling decisions, as well as developing and implementing new facility-wide policies. Professionals in these positions often work closely with social services, regulatory agencies, and the community.
A bachelor’s degree is required but having a master’s degree will improve your marketability. Additionally, those seeking to stand out further may choose to become a Certified Medical Practice Executive (CMPE) through the American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE). The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM) also offers the Certified Medical Management (CCM) qualification.
Healthcare Compliance Manager
Healthcare compliance managers ensure medical facilities meet contractual and legal expectations. To accomplish this, they must remain well informed about updates to healthcare policies, laws, contracts, and regulations from various funding sources and industry agencies. Once changes are identified, these professionals determine the best ways to incorporate them into daily operating procedures. Additionally, they are responsible for ensuring that staff receives all the necessary training to meet compliance standards and pass audits.
A bachelor’s and/or master’s degree in health services management are the optimal education background, but non-degree certificate programs are also available. That said, employers’ standards are becoming increasingly high, with many requiring these professionals to acquire one or more professional certifications. The Compliance Certification Board (CCB) offers five different compliance certification programs for healthcare compliance managers to choose from.
Nursing Home Administrator
Nursing home administrators manage nursing home facilities. These professionals are responsible for overseeing the finances, personnel, compliance, and processes. Because nursing homes are healthcare dispensaries as well as living communities, they must also function as resident advocates when necessary. Additionally, nursing home administrators often function as liaisons between patients, families, and staff to ensure information is communicated appropriately and all policies are followed.
While a bachelor’s degree in health services management is often enough to acquire employment with a small facility, additional education may be necessary to gain employment at larger nursing homes. Every state requires nursing home administrators to be licensed through the National Association of Long Term Care Administration Boards (NAB).
Healthcare consultants work with different healthcare facilities to improve their overall efficiency. Unlike many other employees in the field, these professionals are not tied to a single company or organization. Instead, they coordinate with a facility for a designated period of time before proposing improvements and moving onto another one. In order to identify potential areas of growth, healthcare consultants may conduct interviews, analyze data, run simulations, or coordinate with new information technology vendors. In some cases, they may even assist with administration transitions or technological implementations. Their primary goal is to ensure that leadership has the information and tools necessary to manage the facility successfully in the future.
As contract workers, their educational requirements are not necessary as strict. Expectations are set by each individual facility, but a broad knowledge of the healthcare industry is essential. As a result, most healthcare consultants have bachelor’s and master’s degrees related to business and healthcare management. The National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants (NSCHBC) offers certification options for these professionals.
Health Information Manager
Health information managers work primarily with healthcare data. They are responsible for ensuring that information is properly collected, secured, and applied. These professionals are also the ones in charge of implementing and managing new health information systems, as well as maintaining the facility’s information storage policies. They often train staff on data-related issues and oversee the general safekeeping of data.
Earning a bachelor’s degree is generally required, but having a master’s helps candidates stand out more in a candidate pool. It’s also important that these professionals have some formal training in and experience with information technology. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers six different certifications for health information managers to choose from.
Social and Community Service Managers
Unlike many other medical and health service manager professionals, social and community service managers focus on health issues outside of healthcare facilities. They frequently work for non-profit and government organizations, creating and implementing various types of outreach programs for communities. These projects may include providing support to individuals who struggle with substance abuse, have debilitating illnesses, or are HIV-positive. Alternatively, these professionals may be responsible for finding ways to promote various healthcare initiatives such as the importance of proper nutrition, safe sex practices, or cancer prevention.
Education requirements vary significantly. Organizations that coordinate small-scale projects generally expect social and community service managers to have a bachelor’s degree, although it’s not always necessary. Facilities that execute larger-scale initiatives, on the other hand, may require candidates to have a master’s degree. No certifications or licenses are needed, but a National Association of Nonprofit Professionals (NANPP) membership can be beneficial.
Certification and Continuing Education Requirements for Medical and Health Services Managers
While most medical and health services managers don’t need certification in order to find a job, earning a related credential can lead to more career opportunities. Additionally, some employers do have specific certification requirements that applicants must meet in order to be considered for employment. Required or not, there are several certifications available in many areas of the field, including the following.
Certified Medical Manager (CCM)
The Certified Medical Manager (CCM) credential is offered by the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM). This certification shows that the professional is competent in the administrative management of healthcare organizations. It validates knowledge of the Nine Domains of Medical Practice Administration, as well as the skills and abilities needed to successfully manage physician practices and ambulatory service centers.
Candidates must have a minimum of two years of professional patient care experience within the healthcare industry. At least 12 post-secondary education credits related to healthcare or business are also required.
The Certified Medical Manager (CCM) certification exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions that must be completed within three hours. All content is based on the Nine Domains of Medical Practice Administration. The cost of registration is $770, but Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM) members receive a 50% discount.
Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)
The Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) credential is offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). This certification shows that the professional is capable of managing operational units, participating in administrative committees, preparing a budget, interacting with all levels of an organization, and overseeing patient health information and medical records. It also certifies that the individual has a comprehensive understanding of medical, administrative, ethical, and legal requirements, and standards related to healthcare delivery and patient privacy.
To qualify, candidates must meet one of several eligibility requirements:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in health information management from an accredited institution
- Earn a master’s degree in health information management from an accredited institution
- Complete an approved health information management certificate program
The Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification exam consists of 170 to 200 computer-based questions that must be completed within four hours. Content covered includes information governance, compliance with uses and disclosures, data analytics and informatics, revenue management, and management and leadership. The cost of registration is $299.
Few medical and health services management positions require licensure, although some employers may expect candidates to be licensed as registered nurses or social workers. The primary exception to this is for nursing home administrators. Every state requires these professionals to be licensed through the National Association of Long-Term Care Administration Boards (NAB).
It’s important to note that licensure requirements for nursing home administrators vary by state. In most cases, however, candidates must possess an undergraduate degree, complete an approved training program, and pass a national exam in order to qualify. Depending on the state, an additional exam and/or years of professional work experience may also be necessary.
Because requirements are set by each individual state, it’s important for those seeking licensure to carefully review the expectations in advance. Information regarding state-by-state licensure requirements can be found on the National Association of Long Term Care Administration Boards (NAB) website.
Medical and Health Services Manager Salary and Career Outlook
Overall, the outlook for medical and health services managers working in the United States is very promising. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the profession is expected to grow by 32% from 2019 to 2029. This is much faster than the national average for other professions.
There are several key factors impacting this projected growth, but the primary factor is the aging of the baby-boomer population. As this large group gets older, the demand for healthcare services and those who manage them will increase. Similarly, there will be more need for nursing care facility administrators as more and more of these communities become full.
According to PayScale, the average salary for medical and health services managers is $67,583. This figure is well above the average annual wage of $37,690 reported for all occupations through the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Entry-level professionals can expect to make between $61,000 and $64,000, while those with 20 or more years of experience can earn as much as $77,000 per year. The highest 10% of individuals in the field earned more than $189,000.