Medical and Health Services Managers

Nature of the Work

Medical and health services managers work to provide a smoothly running facility by planning, directing coordinating and supervising the delivery of health care. Health care, like any business, needs good management to keep it running well.These health care administrators can be either specialists in charge of an individual clinical department, or they may oversee an entire facility.

Larger facilities often have several assistant managers who report to the top administrator. These assistant managers are in charge of clinical areas such as therapy, nursing, surgery, health information, and medical records.

Smaller facilities generally rely on one top administrator to be in charge of more specific details of daily operations, including finances, operations, overseeing employees, and patient admissions.

In medical practices, a small group of physicians may employ medical and health services managers to oversee their office administration. Managers work closely with the doctors, and be in charge of staffing issues, medical billing and collections, budgeting issues, and planning. In a larger practice with 35-45 doctors, several administrators may be employed to oversee various areas, all of whom would report to a head administrator.

Clinical managers have experience or training in a specific clinical area and often have more responsibilities than do generalists. For example, directors of occupational therapy are experienced occupational therapists. Clinical managers are in charge of policies, goals, and procedures for their departments, they evaluate staff, develop budgets; and coordinate activities with managers of other departments.

Training and Qualifications Needed

Though a bachelor's degree is sometimes accepted for entry level positions at smaller facilities, a master's degree in health services administration, long-term care administration, health sciences, public administration, public health, or business administration is the standard for most positions in this field.

Administrators who plan to become heads of clinical departments may find that a degree in the appropriate field and work experience may be enough early in their career. In order for advancement, though, they may need a master’s degree in health services administration or a related field.

Nursing care facility administrators are required to have a bachelor’s degree, pass a licensing examination, complete a State-approved training program, and pursue continuing education in all states. Additionally, some states require licenses for administrators of assisted living facilities. Other areas of medical and health services management do not require a license.

Candidates who have a bachelor’s degree or who pass an exam can earn certification as a Registered Health Information Administrator from the American Health Information Management Association.

Opportunity for Advancement

Medical and health services managers may advance to more responsible and higher paying jobs, such as assistant or associate administrator, department head, or chief executive officer, or by moving to larger facilities.

Long Term Job Outlook

Job creation for medical and health services managers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations because of the long term growth in the health care industry in general. Good job opportunities should be evident, especially for candidates with experience in the health care industry and good business management skills. The fastest area of growth in this field will be in home health care agencies and practitioners' offices, although jobs will be also be created in hospitals at a slightly slower pace.

Salary and Earnings Potential

Median annual earnings were $73,340 in May 2006 (the latest date with complete data). Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of medical and health services managers range from approximately $66,000 to $78,000, as follows:

General medical and surgical hospitals $78,660
  • Outpatient care centers $67,920
  • Offices of physicians $67,540
  • Nursing care facilities $66,730
  • Home health care services $66,720

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