How to Become a Healthcare Manager in 5 Easy Steps

It should come as no surprise that healthcare providers’ logistics and behind-the-scenes operations can be complicated. There’s a lot to navigate and understand when it comes to billing and payment, managing various facilities and departments, and ensuring the quality of healthcare.

Here comes the healthcare manager. These individuals are skilled in the planning, direction, and coordination of medical and health services. They may be in charge of an entire facility or just one department.

You’ve always wanted to work in the thriving healthcare industry, but you’ve discovered that your skill set is more focused on business and administrative duties. This is why you’ve determined that healthcare management is the best of both worlds.

If you’ve ever been interested in working in a medical field but have found that your skill set lies more with business and administrative duties, this could be the perfect blend of both worlds for you.

So what’s the recipe for success? What does the roadmap look like to arrive at a healthcare management position? We did the research for you, gathered the details, and put together a high-level step-by-step guide on how to become a healthcare manager.

5 important steps to becoming a healthcare manager

Every career starts with a plan with steps to take along the way. Not every step will cover the same distance, but it’s important to know what lies ahead. Aspiring managers in healthcare will need to take the following steps:

Determine your educational path

Different schools have different types of programs, and you want to figure out which college will prepare you the best for the future you want. While most hiring managers prefer at least a Bachelor’s degree for healthcare managers, it’s becoming more common to get a Master’s degree in the field as well. Some employers may favor a more advanced degree.

In today’s healthcare environment, a degree is critical to not only obtaining a position but being considered for promotion. A broad degree, such as an MBA with a specialty, would provide more opportunities.

Once you decide what type of degree you want, you can start vetting programs and decide if you’d prefer to be in class with a professor and classmates or learn from a distance and connect through an online program. You may even want to consider a blended program that will allow you to participate through a combination of the two.

Another factor to consider, especially if you’re leaning toward earning a Master’s degree, is whether you’d like to complete all of your schoolings up front. Management positions will likely require experience no matter your education level, so it may benefit you to first earn a Bachelor’s degree and then earn experience before pursuing a Master’s degree.

Earn your degree

While it is undeniably easier said than done, finishing college and earning a degree is a necessary step. The hours you’ll put in studying will come in handy when navigating a complex industry.

A Healthcare Management degree, for example, combines business and healthcare courses to provide you with a solid foundational knowledge of medical terminology, hospital organization, and health information services. Combine this with courses in risk management, statistics, healthcare regulations, and financial management, and you’ll have covered a lot of the groundwork for a career in healthcare management.

While four or more years of college may seem daunting, know that you are securing your future, gaining confidence in a field of interest, and ensuring your career prospects for future,  gaining confidence in a field of interest, and ensuring your career prospects for later in life. Keep your chin up and work hard—you won’t regret the time you spent preparing yourself for what lies ahead, and you’ll have the opportunity to connect with passionate instructors and learn about best practices in the healthcare industry.

Build work experience

A healthcare management career necessitates some prior experience in healthcare, whether as a paid paraprofessional, such as a CNA or as an administrative intern. Trying to find a job with just a degree is difficult because healthcare is such a specialized field.

No matter what job you want, experience is essential. Healthcare management positions are no exception—while you may need to obtain an education to qualify for a management position, you will need to work your way up. You could begin your career in the billing department of a hospital or clinic, or in an administrative role for a medical device or pharmaceutical company—there are numerous entry points into the “business” side of healthcare.

Getting your first job healthcare job after college can be a little tricky if you don’t have much work experience, so it is important to take advantage of any experience-building opportunity available to you. If the college program you’re a part of offers internships or opportunities to shadow professionals in the field, take advantage of it! You’ll be able to ask questions, learn from your mistakes, and gain crucial experience.

Consider licensure or certifications

While most areas of medical and healthcare management do not require a license, all states require nursing home administrators to be licensed. If you want to work in this field, the American College of Health Care Administrators offers certifications such as Certified Nursing Home Administrator and Certified Assisted Living Administrator.

Management and administration licensure are not as important as it is in other areas of healthcare. However, as administrators are expected to take on more responsibilities and duties in various areas, certification is becoming increasingly important.

Even if licensure isn’t required for the position you’re applying for, certifications can help you stand out. The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management, for example, provides certification in medical management, as does the American Health Information Management Association offers a health information management certification.

Not sure which certifications could benefit you? One helpful trick is to take some time to browse the LinkedIn profiles of professionals working in healthcare management roles to get an idea of which, if any, certifications they’ve pursued.

Start seeking out new positions

Excellent leadership, communication, and analytical skills are required in healthcare management. You are not only interacting with people, but you are also applying technical knowledge to necessary and important administrative tasks. It takes practice and time to combine your interpersonal skills with your detail-oriented abilities. However, advancing your career may be an important next step for you if you master these skills and feel as if it comes naturally to you.

The healthcare industry is very different from traditional businesses. Finding a job or being promoted necessitates a strategic plan.

Depending on the size of the organization, there is usually room to advance your position and climb the healthcare management ladder. For example, if you are currently in charge of a department’s healthcare information system, you may aspire to oversee the entire hospital’s healthcare information system in the future. You may even want to pursue a high-level executive position that incorporates strategic planning and takes part in overseeing a variety of clinics and hospitals.

It’s not always a simple process working your way up the career ladder, so it may help to seek out advice or some informal mentorship from established colleagues. Remember, career advancement can be a bit of a grind, so you’ll need to stay determined and not get discouraged if you face setbacks along the way.

Take your first step

There are numerous reasons to be interested in a position in healthcare management. The BLS predicts a faster-than-average 17 percent increase in employment, with a median annual salary of $96,540 for medical and health services managers in 2021. Having said that, becoming a healthcare manager is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process.

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