How to Become a Medical and Health Services Manager

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A hospital administrator works on a laptop

Medical and health services managers, also known as health care administrators, are the go-to departmental decision-makers at care provider organizations. These responsible leaders are needed in all corners of the health care field, where they may work in such specialized roles as nursing home administrators, clinical managers, health information managers or patient records managers.

Medical and Health Services Manager Duties and Responsibilities

The connecting concept that links the role across these many disciplines is objective-based leadership. Medical and health services managers are the individuals who keep their departments or facilities operating effectively. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that they improve the quality of services, create work schedules, oversee staff members, onboard new hires, manage finances, set budgets, monitor legal compliance, organize medical records and represent the organization when dealing with governing boards or investors.

Becoming a medical and health services manager requires a strong background in technical health care knowledge and interpersonal communication skills. Due to managers’ role dealing with the overall care offerings of their respective organizations, as well as their work with heavily regulated areas such as medical records, these professionals need to stay up to date on health care laws and best practices. Since the role is also closely involved in staff leadership and development, this legal knowledge must be backed by soft skills, honed through previous experience or relevant graduate coursework.

Hiring and Salary Outlook for Medical and Health Services Managers

As with many positions in the health care sector, demand for medical and health services managers is expected to rise significantly over the next few years. The BLS noted that the U.S. population is not only growing, but also contains a larger number of active senior citizens and will have more in the immediate future. These baby boomers will increase demand for medical services, and health care facilities will likely have to increase their staffing levels to compensate. Between 2018 and 2028, the number of services managers employed in the U.S. health care industry will rise by 18%, as the BLS predicts. This number stands in contrast to the 5% expansion projected across all roles.

In addition to predicting strong hiring, the BLS notes that salaries are often high for medical and health services managers. The agency notes the median earnings for these professionals are $99,730 per year. That figure is higher than the median pay for all types of managers, which is $90,120. Medical managers in government roles tend to make the highest salaries, followed by hospital employees and leaders at outpatient care centers. These high salary projections come with demands on employees’ time — typically managers work full time as a baseline and may be expected to go beyond standard hours to cope with emergencies.

The Medical and Health Services Manager Career Path

Becoming a medical and health services manager can require years of previous experience working in the health care field, where candidates will build their skills and familiarity with the most important elements of medical leadership. PayScale noted that a bachelor’s degree is considered a minimum for consideration, with The Balance adding that master’s degrees are preferred in many cases.

Numerous health care administrators have master’s degrees in related subjects, though the exact nature of those diplomas differs from one leader to the next. Students who have studied health care law and policy at the master’s level have access to in-depth knowledge of industry-specific rules and regulations that will assist them in authoritative decision-making. The skills acquired while earning these degrees encompass areas such as malpractice, elder law and real estate, reflecting the wide range of situations managers will be called on to address.

In addition to academic credentials, health care managers should have an extensive job history, PayScale added. While studying and working, aspiring managers should work on their strategic planning and leadership skills alongside their general health care knowledge and familiarity with systems such as electronic medical records.

U.S. News & World Report reported that some medical settings call for licensure. Becoming an administrator at a nursing care facility is only open to licensed applicants, for example. Industry organizations such as the Professional Agency of Health Care Office Management and the College of Health Care Administrators offer certification in the concepts behind medical leadership. Such credentials aren’t hard requirements, but they may show candidates’ aptitude with related concepts.

The Online Master’s in Health Law and Policy Degree

One master’s program that can give prospective medical and health services managers important industry insights is the online Master of Arts in Health Law and Policy from Hofstra Law. This degree is dedicated to the ever-evolving legal structures that affect the U.S. health care industry, giving specialized insights into the way these regulations impact organizations of all kinds. Applicants who want to take on leadership of a medical staff should grasp these concepts to keep their facilities in compliance and create strategies that suit their organizations.

Since the online Master of Arts in Health Law and Policy is taken entirely digitally, students don’t have to leave their current full-time positions, meaning they can keep building professional experience in their present roles. This approach of accumulating years of service in the medical field while also adding relevant legal knowledge can make these students more well-rounded and appealing to hiring managers.

To learn more about the online master’s in health law and policy, check out the program page.

Recommended Readings
6 careers that can benefit from a health law and policy degree
Comparing HIPAA’s Privacy and Security Rules

Sources:
[1] PayScale – Average Medical and Health Services Manager Salary
[2] The Balance – What Does a Health Services Manager Do?
[3] U.S. News & World Report – Medical and Health Services Manager Overview
[4] Bureau of Labor Statistics – Medical and Health Services Managers