Health services managers, also known as healthcare administrators, plan, coordinate and oversee the delivery of healthcare. They create budgets and implement objectives and procedures. Depending on the job, they often have to make decisions which involve both the health of the patients and the profitability of the healthcare facility. They also need a broad understanding of management principles and practices.
Some health services managers oversee the whole facility. Others specialize in managing a specific department and typically have education focused on that specific field. Those that manage the entire facility need a solid foundation in operating a business and clinical issues. Some in the profession manage numerous healthcare facilities.
Administrators have to deal with integrating numerous types of healthcare delivery systems. They're also involved with complex regulatory issues, preventive care issues and the frequent changes of medical technology. In addition, the administrators typically are asked to improve the efficiency of healthcare facilities.
Clinical and non-clinical are the two basic categories for specialty managers in the profession. Clinical managers are involved with implementing policies, procedures and goals for departments such as surgery, nursing, outpatient services and therapy. Non-clinical managers typically deal with issues such as human resources and finance.
More than 50% of health service managers are employed by hospitals. Some are employed by health maintenance organizations, outpatient facilities, nursing homes, home healthcare agencies and the insurance industry. Government agencies such as the Veterans Administration health care system, public health departments and health planning departments also employ health services administrators. In addition, large businesses and organizations typically have a large number of health services managers while small facilities may have only one manager to deal with all the duties.
Administrators working in a large facility typically have assistant managers who supervise clinical areas such as surgery, nursing, therapy, healthcare information and medical records. Also, they might be required to represent their company to the public. Managers in small facilities are often responsible for the financial aspects of the company and managing the personnel and the admissions department. Overseeing most of the daily functions is also typically part of the job.
Implementing policies and evaluating the job performance of employees is part of the job for managers working in small and large facilities. Administrators also typically produce reports and budgets. In group medical practices administrators create business strategies and oversee the daily business activities.
Some administrators are provided with private offices while other share an office with other staff members. They also spend a lot of time interacting with others. They often spend time coordinating their work with other managers. In group medical practices administrators work closely with doctors.
Good management and communication skills are needed for the occupation. In addition, health services managers often have to make difficult decisions every day. Often, managers work more than a 40 hour week. Since nursing care facilities and hospitals operate 24 hours a day healthcare administrators are called at all hours to discuss problems. Travel is sometimes part of the occupation due to attending meetings or inspecting other facilities.
There were about 262,000 health services manager positions in 2006. Approximately 37% were employed in hospitals and about 22% were employed in doctors' offices or nursing and residential care facilities. The employment of health services managers is projected to grow 16% from 2006 to 2016 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The growth rate is higher than the average for all other occupations. Employment in practitioners' offices and home healthcare agencies are projected to have the fastest growth in the field, however hospitals will still be the biggest employers of health services managers through 2016.
The median annual earnings for health services managers in 2006 was $73,340. Those in general and medical surgical hospitals had a median yearly earnings of $78,660.
New graduates with a master's degree in heath services administration are eligible to begin their careers by taking department manager positions or being part of the supervisory staff. Also, hospitals and other types of healthcare facilities provide postgraduate residencies and fellowships which are typically staff positions. Those with bachelor's degrees in health administration typically take administrative assistant or assistant department heads positions in large hospitals. They may have opportunities to begin their careers as department supervisors in small hospitals and nursing care facilities.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Most healthcare managers are required to have a master's degree in a field such as heath services administration, public health, public administration, health sciences, long term care administration or business administration. Doctor's offices and other small settings may not require formal education and experience may suffice.
Colleges and universities provide bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in health administration. Typically, the graduate programs take between two and three years to complete. Also, numerous programs provide students with specialty opportunities in the subjects of hospitals, mental health facilities, nursing care facilities and medical groups.
Some of the graduate degree programs select candidates with undergraduate degrees in health administration or business, yet many graduate programs prefer candidates with a health profession or a liberal arts background. Experience in the field of healthcare is also a plus for master's degree program candidates.
The areas of medical and health services management do not require a license. However, all states require nursing care facility administrators to have a bachelor's degree, complete a state approved training program, pass a licensing exam and be involved with continuing education. In addition, numerous states require licenses for assisted living facility administrators.
Administrators who have a bachelor's degree or a post-baccalaureate degree and pass an exam can acquire certification as a Registered Health Information Administer from the American Health Information Management Association.
- American College of Healthcare Executives
- Association of University Programs in Health Administration
- Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education
The main employers of health services managers are hospitals, nursing care and residential care facilities and doctors' offices.
Schools for Health Services Managers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.