For healthcare professionals interested in expanding their career possibilities, it may be beneficial to explore the business side of this growing industry. A career in healthcare management, for example, can allow professionals to use the knowledge they have attained and work toward improving the quality of patient care.
The percentage of U.S. workers employed in healthcare and social assistance has been growing for more than six decades – from about 3% in the 1950s to more than 12% as of 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports. By 2026, it is projected to hit 13.8% and become the largest industry sector by employment.
An aging population, along with a greater focus on preventative care, is translating into rising demand for qualified managers and administrators with strong management skills. Employment of medical and health services managers, a category of professionals that includes healthcare administrators, will jump by 20% between 2016 and 2026, the BLS projects. That growth rate is nearly three times higher than the national average (7%) for all occupations during the same decade.
The average annual wage for medical and health services managers nationwide was $111,680 as of May 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor reports.
Salary potential, like employment opportunities, will vary according to factors such as economic conditions, geographic location, industry type, and an individual’s educational qualifications and work history. Prospective candidates should conduct independent research into the employment market.
The Changing Landscape of Healthcare
From the equipment and technology used daily to the specialization in services and the delivery of care to patients, healthcare is evolving and transforming in many ways.
Keeping pace with these sweeping changes requires trained and talented management teams with a diversity of skills. Healthcare leaders in the 21st century must be innovative thinkers, creative problem solvers and effective agents of change. Continuous challenges bring the prospect of an exciting and interesting career, where each day differs from the last and the next.
How to Become a Healthcare Manager
Nationwide, about 1 in 9 jobs require graduate-level or higher qualifications, an increase of more than 60% since the early 1970s, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
That trend is mirrored in the healthcare field, where launching a career in healthcare leadership or management increasingly requires a master’s degree in a field such as healthcare administration or management, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. These graduate degree programs typically provide a higher level of healthcare-specific business knowledge that can be applied to real-world situations in hospitals, medical practices, surgery centers and other facilities.
What are some of the core attributes and knowledge required of healthcare administrators and managers?
- Ability to lead and inspire
- Analytical skills
- Organizational skills
- Understanding of policy
- Strong decision-making
- Interpersonal skills
- Ability to manage and collaborate with diverse groups
- Data mining and analysis
- Strong verbal and written communication
Specialized degree programs, such as a Master of Science (MS) in Healthcare Administration, are designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the fundamentals of healthcare management, including policy issues, ethical leadership and process improvement.
According to the BLS, there were about 347,000 medical and health services managers employed in the United States as of May 2017, with the largest percentage working in hospitals. Other professionals were employed in long-term care facilities, medical laboratories, outpatient clinics and physicians’ offices.
With advanced educational qualifications, training and experience, healthcare professionals may be able to pursue positions in administration and management, including:
- Director of nursing administration
- Government relations director
- Medical staff relations manager
- Chief executive officer
For qualified and dedicated professionals, a career in healthcare management can bring an array of rewarding opportunities to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others every day.