Healthcare is a large and rapidly changing industry in the United States, and MBA programs in healthcare have to cover a lot of ground in order to prepare graduates for jobs as healthcare executives.
If you're interested in one of the rapidly growing and well-paying jobs as a medical or health services manager, an MBA degree is critical. An MBA degree in healthcare is available in a traditional campus setting, through an online program, or through a combination of both. Many programs are part time--allowing you to stay in your current job if you like--but even some part-time programs are accelerated to allow you to finish your degree in about two years.
Overview of Healthcare MBA Programs
Healthcare MBAs are offered in dozens of universities across the country, and many strive to provide both a solid background in business and a well-rounded review of medical devices, insurance issues, healthcare venture capital, and other issues particular to the healthcare field. The better schools can match you with a mentor in the industry and provide you with field-based training in a healthcare facility.
In addition to these areas, in a healthcare MBA program you're also likely to:
- Learn traditional business disciplines such as accounting, finance, human and organizational performance, and marketing.
- Study issues related directly to medicine and health care, including ethics, healthcare operations, public and private financing, and information technology for healthcare.
- Examine legal issues and management fundamentals. Legal issues related to healthcare facilities, medical research and pharmaceutical development are complex, but some programs teach their graduates how to comply with applicable laws while keeping legal costs under control.
- Complete an independent study or consulting project, such as determining how to make diagnostic imaging departments faster and more accurate, developing a financial strategy for a community-based healthcare program, or implementing an online patient record-keeping system.
Some MBA healthcare programs allow students to study the process of innovation, such as where ideas come from and how to evaluate the economic potential of creative projects. They'll also study how to create a work environment that fosters innovation and rewards efficiency.
Career Options and Salaries for MBA Healthcare Graduates
MBA healthcare graduates don't always go to work managing hospitals or other medical facilities. This degree opens a wide range of options in the fields of biotechnology, insurance programs, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, market research, and laboratories and research facilities.
People with an MBA in healthcare may want to become generalists, capable of managing an entire facility for instance, or may want to specialize in certain areas, such as:
- Clinical managers, who have experience in a specific clinical area, such as physical therapy.
- Health information managers, who maintain patient records and are required to stay abreast of the latest computer and software technology. Some health information managers can earn a certification.
- Business manager for a small medical group, overseeing personnel matters, budgeting, hiring and billing.
In whatever field you chose, it's likely there will be an increasing demand for your services, and there is room for advancement in the growing healthcare industry, such as from an assistant administrator to a department head or CEO. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), new graduates with an MBA healthcare may start as a department head.
There are nearly 300,000 medical and health services managers in the U.S., and that number is expected to increase by 16 percent between 2008 and 2018, the BLS reports. New managers are entering a field that changes constantly with technological advances, surgical technique improvements, and innovative care for cancer patients.
Healthcare managers need to know how to control costs while ensuring a high level of patient care and treatment--all while negotiating health care reforms and shifting economic conditions. And the increasing average age of the population should ensure an increasing demand for quality healthcare in most sectors of the industry, according to BLS projections.
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for medical and health services managers in 2009 was $81,850, with half of those people earning between $63,700 and $105,980. General medical and surgical hospitals tend to pay more than outpatient care centers, and the salaries for administrators in doctor's offices are generally much higher for workers in practices that employ a large number of physicians.