What is Healthcare Management?
A college degree in healthcare management can lead to many exciting career opportunities in Alabama. Ideal for those interested in developing and administering healthcare programs for individuals and families, this major provides the knowledge and skills needed to ensure community members receive the best possible care. Graduates are typically qualified to become executives in many different medical settings including hospitals, health insurance companies, and nursing homes.
Healthcare managers, sometimes referred to as healthcare executives, are typically responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating medical and health services for their employers. Expectations vary, but these professionals may be tasked with managing entire facilities, clinical areas, or medical practices for groups of physicians. Titles tend to vary depending on the facility or area of expertise. Examples include nursing home administrator, clinical manager, and health information manager.
While specific responsibilities will vary by position, most healthcare managers are expected to improve the efficiency and quality of healthcare services delivery. They often develop departmental goals and objects, which are then dispersed to all employees in the impacted area. These professionals may also recruit, train, and supervise staff members, as well as creating work schedules. Additionally, healthcare managers often oversee finances for their facilities. This includes facilitating payments of patient fees and billing, monitoring budgets, and ensuring departments operate within funding limits. They must also verify that all work is up to date on and compliance with various state and national regulations. It’s imperative that individuals in this occupation remain deeply familiar with various healthcare laws and technologies. Communication with various members of the medical staff and departmental leaders is also commonly required.
Online Healthcare Management Education in Alabama
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for medical and health services managers is projected to grow 28% from 2021 to 2031. This is much faster than the average for all occupations and will result in an increase of about 56,600 job openings each year.
Healthcare services is the fourth largest industry in Alabama, accounting for $17.7 billion in revenue each year. While most employment opportunities in this sector are likely to result from the need to replace workers transferring to different careers or exiting the labor force, an increased demand for healthcare services is also expected due to the aging baby-boomer population.
Based on data provided by the bureau of Labor Statistics, Alabama employed 7,840 medical and health services managers in May 2021. The annual mean wage for these professionals was $94,070. Notably, this is significantly above the state’s reported annual mean wage of $48,110 for all occupations.
Healthcare managers often work closely with other medical professionals including physicians, surgeons, registered nurses, and medical laboratory technicians. As a result, the most successful professionals in this career field tend to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
Most healthcare managers work for state, local, or private hospitals. Employment opportunities are also available in physician offices, nursing homes, residential care facilities, and outpatient care centers. Individuals in this field are typically employed full time, with evening and weekend hours sometimes required depending on work setting. It may also be necessary to participate in on-call rotations in case of emergencies.
Many colleges and universities in Alabama offer degrees in healthcare management. Other closely related subjects include health information management, health promotion, healthcare administration, and public health. While some institutions offer these programs online, prospective students should consider their enrollment options carefully before submitting applications for admittance. Distance learning offers more flexible scheduling and allows students to complete requirements anywhere with internet access, but curriculums are often less geographically relevant. Those who intend to seek employment in Alabama may want to give preference to schools located in the state. These colleges and universities will be more familiar with the hiring standards and expectations of employers in the area. They will also incorporate more relevant information regarding healthcare practices, policies, and regulations in Alabama. Additionally, it’s common for institutions to establish collaborative relationships with nearby companies and organizations. This can make it easier to secure internships while enrolled and may also lead to paid employment after graduation.
Education requirements for medical and health services managers can vary by facility and specific function. Many colleges and universities offer relevant degree programs, allowing prospective students to choose from offerings at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Each level has benefits and drawbacks you should be aware of prior to applying for admittance.
While it’s possible to find related entry-level employment with limited higher education experience, most healthcare managers have at least bachelor’s degrees. Master’s degrees are common, however, and often preferred by employers.
Online Associate Degree in Healthcare Management (AS)
Associate degrees in healthcare management generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Notably, students are typically required to take both general liberal arts and major-specific classes at the undergraduate level. Curriculums vary, but in addition to basic mathematics, communication, and social sciences, those enrolled can expect to learn about healthcare technology, medical terminology, marketing, and medical office administration. Most programs also teach the fundamentals of working in medical officers, offering opportunities to gain knowledge and skills in maintaining records and supervising employees. Instruction in popular technologies, data systems, and medical coding are also common.
This type of degree is ideal for those who plan to seek entry-level administrative jobs in healthcare quickly and with as little financial investment as possible. Associate degrees in healthcare management are generally offered by community colleges, which tend to charge lower tuition rates. This allows those enrolled to spend less, potentially accumulate fewer school loans, and join the workforce faster. Some common employment opportunities available to graduates include medical secretary, medical assistant, and medical records technician.
Graduates may also be well-prepared to continue their education by pursuing bachelor’s degrees. Undergraduate course credits are transferrable towards these programs, often providing those with associate degrees a head-start with graduation requirements. As most colleges and universities accept up to 60 or 90 semester hours in transfer, two additional years of education may be all that is necessary to earn a more advanced degree.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Management (BS)
Bachelor’s degrees in healthcare management consist of 120 credit hours that takes full-time students approximately four years to complete. As undergraduate programs, students usually still take both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. Curriculums vary, but those enrolled can expect to learn about healthcare law, management information systems, and budgeting in healthcare. Other common courses include principles of marketing, business law, and ethics.
Many healthcare management bachelor’s programs include internships. These allow students to gain real-world experience and practice the skills they have learned. Internships also offer great opportunities to network with other professionals.
This type of degree is ideal for individuals seeking the knowledge and skills necessary to oversee the business side of medical facilities and organizations. Generally, bachelor’s degrees are the minimum standard for professionals in this field. Graduates often qualify for employment as medical office administrators, healthcare human resources managers, health information officers, and community service managers.
Notably, job candidates are likely to have more success after completing graduate programs. Those interested in earning master’s degrees should be prepared to meet minimum grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score requirements set by gaining institutions.
Online Master's Degree in Healthcare Management (MS or MC)
Master’s degrees in healthcare management generally range from 30 to 45 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two to three years to complete. Undergraduate credits are no longer applicable, but prospective students should verify that all prerequisite requirements have been met prior to enrolling. Curriculums vary, but most focus on both management and healthcare, combining business courses with instruction in medical terminology, hospital organization, and health information systems. Other common classes include health services management, accounting, human resources administration, strategic planning, and health economics.
Many master’s programs in healthcare management also include supervised administrative experiences. These may last for up to a year and can take place in hospitals or various healthcare consulting settings.
This type of degree is ideal for those interested in advancing their careers, especially with regards to upper management positions. As previously mentioned, many companies and organizations give preference to candidates with master’s degrees. Graduates are also likely to promote faster and earn bigger salaries. Common employment opportunities include medical records supervisor, hospital administrator, health information management manager, and healthcare consultant.
Online PhD Degree in Healthcare Management (PhD)
A PhD or doctorate in web development may consist of between 60 and 120 credit hours that can take full-time students up to seven years to complete. Program structure and length varies, but often incorporate classroom learning, residencies in the field, and dissertations or capstone projects. In addition to independent study and research, those enrolled can expect to receive instruction in advanced healthcare management, finance, legal, and ethical topics. Classes related to healthcare data and informatics are also common.
This type of degree is most appropriate for professionals seeking to lead large teams of healthcare workers or conduct research in the healthcare industry. Graduates will have many career opportunities and have access to some of the highest-paying jobs in the field. Top employment options generally include post-secondary educator and hospital CEO.
Become a Healthcare Management in Alabama
The first step to becoming a healthcare manager in Alabama is determining your ultimate career goals. Because there are many potential professions in this field, narrowing your focus can be helpful. Not only will you have a clear professional concept to base your progress on, but you can also identify the level of education necessary to meet minimum hiring qualifications. Additionally, it is likely to become easier to select appropriate elective courses, minor areas of study, concentrations, and/or internship opportunities.
It's important to realize that Alabama does not have specific education requirements for healthcare managers. That said, most professionals in this field possess at least bachelor’s degrees. Hiring standards are generally managed by individual companies and organizations in the state.
Once you have achieved the necessary level of education for your desired profession, you may want to consider obtaining one or more relevant certifications. These credentials can help professionals demonstrate knowledge and skills beyond their academic degrees. While not typically needed for employment, certified professionals often stand out more among job candidates when applying for employment. Earning at least one certification can also increase promotion opportunities and/or pay potential.
Notably, there is no single most important credential recommended for healthcare managers. You are generally free to pursue certifications that are most relevant to your areas of interest and the jobs you are seeking.
Some prominent options available to healthcare managers include:
- Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE)
- Certified Medical Manager (CMM)
- Certified Healthcare Administrative Professionals (cHAP)
- Certified Professional in Health Care Risk Management (CPHRM)
- Certified in Healthcare Compliance (CHC)
- Certified Healthcare Financial Professional (CFHP)
- Certified Revenue Cycle Executive (CRCE)
- Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)
- Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)
Many healthcare management professionals also benefit from becoming members of related professional organizations and associations. These groups commonly offer various perks, such as discounts for development opportunities, access to academic journals, and invitations to networking events. Some also offer reduced membership rates for recent graduates.
A few common options include:
- Medical Group Management Association of Alabama (MGMA/Alabama)
- American Health Information Management Association (AAHIM)
- American Association of Health Care Administrative Management (AAHAM)
- The Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators (SAWCA)
- National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM)
- American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA)
- American Society of Healthcare Human Resources Administrators (ASHHRA)
Careers for Healthcare Management Graduates
- Administrative Coordinator
Administrative coordinators are responsible for providing employee support, supervising staff, and budget management for the companies they work for. They often function as a bridge between various departments, vendors, and employees. These professionals may also be tasked with hiring, evaluating, and setting work assignments for workers. According to PayScale, administrative coordinators make an average base salary of $48,350 per year.
- Assisted Living Administrator
Assisted living administrators determine who may be admitted into assisted living facilities. They often manage facility financial matters, hire new employees, and review staff performance. These professionals are also responsible for overseeing various daily operations. According to PayScale, assisted living administrators make an average base salary of $60,300 per year.
- Chief Compliance Officer
Chief compliance officers oversee the finances and operations for their employers. They decide whether or not to approve new initiatives requiring executive budget approval and ensure company operations adhere to various rules, regulations, policies, and laws. These professionals may also review and revise codes of conduct, as well as investigating compliance issues and acting upon findings. According to PayScale, chief compliance officers make an average base salary of $123,250 per year.
- Clinical Manager
Clinical managers work in clinical and medical offices to provide primary and ongoing care for patients. They often manage day-to-day treatment strategies as they are prescribed, as well as staff selection, training, development, and supervision. They may also be expected to ensure patient care and scheduling organized and effective. According to PayScale, clinical managers make an average base salary of $73,600 per year.
- Health Information Manager
Health information managers ensure all medical information is stored and transmitted in legal and ethical ways. This often entails establishing reliable record-keeping methods, as well as ensuring all storage and transfer procedures are followed appropriately. These professionals also develop and implement heath policy for employees. According to PayScale, health information managers make an average base salary of $57,650 per year.
- Healthcare Administrator
Healthcare administrators work in upper management, leading staffs of nurses and nursing assistants. They often coordinate staff training and conduct performance reviews for subordinates. These professionals may also be responsible for ensuring their facilities meet accreditation standards. According to PayScale, healthcare administrators make an average base salary of $74,500 per year.
- Healthcare Consultant
Healthcare consultants work with clients to optimize patient care, cost management, and overall efficiency. They often assess administrative effectiveness, legal compliance, work environment, procedural flow, and financial processes to identify potential problems. These professionals then research possible solutions and communicate suggestions to stakeholders. According to PayScale, healthcare consultants make an average base salary of $80,350 per year.
- Medical Secretary
Medical secretaries typically perform a variety of administrative duties for clinics, hospitals, and other medical facilities. They greet customers, answer phone calls, and schedule appointments. These professionals may also communicate with insurance companies to ensure clients are eligible for certain treatments and rates. According to PayScale, medical secretaries make an average base salary of $39,850 per year.
- Patient Services Representative
Patient services representatives often serve as the first point of contact for individuals entering medical facilities. They perform a variety of tasks related to patient intake and care such as greeting them, collecting payments, answering phones, scheduling appointments, and filing paperwork. These professionals are also often responsible for verifying patient information and entering it into tracking systems. According to PayScale, patient services representatives make an average base salary of $40,350 per year.