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What is Healthcare Management?

Healthcare management education can lead to a wide variety of career opportunities in Arkansas. This major generally provides the knowledge and skills needed to help medical facilities provide the best care possible. It is particularly well-suited for prospective students interested developing and administering healthcare programs for individuals and families. Graduates are typically qualified to become executives in many different medical settings including hospitals, health insurance companies, and nursing homes.

Healthcare managers often have many responsibilities related to planning, directing, and coordinating medical and health services. Although they are generally referred to as healthcare executives, official titles vary based on the facility they work for and their specific area of expertise. Examples of common titles include nursing home administrator, clinical manager, and health information manager.

The number of services they oversee also varies as these professionals may be tasked with managing small clinical areas, medical practices for groups of physicians, or entire facilities. At a basic level, most healthcare managers are expected to improve the efficiency and quality of healthcare services delivery. This often involves developing strategic departmental goals and objectives, which employees are then expected to meet. These professionals may also recruit, train, and supervise staff members, as well as creating work schedules.

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Online Healthcare Management Education in Arkansas

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. The need to replace professionals leaving the workforce, coupled with an increased demand for healthcare services and knowledge of medical sciences due to the aging baby-boomer population, make this a promising field.

Educational services, healthcare, and social assistance is the fourth largest industry in Arkansas, accounting for $12.1 billion in revenue each year. Based on data provided by the BLS, the state employed 5,560 medical managers in May 2021. The annual mean wage for these professionals was $92,110. Notably, this is significantly above the state’s reported annual mean wage of $46,500 for all occupations.

Arkansas is home to many colleges and universities that offer healthcare administration degree programs, with traditional on-campus and distance learning options available in health services administration and other options in health education. You might look for degree programs in health sciences from the University of Arkansas, Arkansas State University, and more university programs all over the state. Online programs provide more flexible scheduling and allow students to complete requirements anywhere with internet access, but those who intend to work in the state may still want to give preference to local institutions. These schools tend to have curriculums that are more geographically relevant. Not only will courses provide instruction in areas most important to employers in the area, but professors will be more familiar with various healthcare practices, policies, and regulations in the region. 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.

It’s important to realize that 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.

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 and in compliance with various state and national regulations.

Education requirements for healthcare administration professionals can vary significantly, but most employers do expect job candidates to have some type of academic degree. Many colleges and universities offer relevant degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.

While it may be possible to find 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 education generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. As these are undergraduate programs, students typically take both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. Curriculums vary, but those enrolled are likely to learn various aspects related to healthcare technology, medical terminology, medical sciences, marketing, medical office administration, and health services administration. It’s also common for students to receive instruction on the fundamentals of working in medical offices, as well as how to utilize various popular technologies, data systems, and medical coding methods. Those who cannot find healthcare administration degree programs near them can look for business administration degrees and aim to focus on medical sciences or health administration with online courses from elsewhere.

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 administration 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 toward 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 administration often consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. These are undergraduate programs, which mean students will enroll in both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. Curriculums differ by university, but often include instruction related to healthcare law, management information systems, and budgeting in healthcare. Other common courses include principles of marketing, business law, and ethics.

It's worth noting that many healthcare administration programs at this level include internships. These are often designed to help students to gain real-world experience and practice the skills they learn in classrooms. Additionally, internships can serve as a great way to network with other professionals in the field and may even lead to full-time employment after graduation.

This type of degree is ideal for individuals who plan to seek employment related to the business side of medical facilities and organizations. Graduates often qualify for employment as medical office administrators, healthcare human resources managers, health information officers, and community service managers.

As bachelor’s degrees often provide the basic knowledge and skills necessary to oversee these services, it is commonly considered the minimum standard for professionals in this field. Those seeking more advanced positions will be more successful after completing graduate programs. Those interested in furthering their education should be prepared to provide grade point average (GPA) records and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score results to gaining institutions.

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Online Master's Degree in Healthcare Management (MS)

Master’s degrees in healthcare management generally range from 30 to 45 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately 18 months to three years to complete. Undergraduate credits cannot be transferred and applied towards graduate school requirements, but many programs set undergraduate class prerequisites to ensure incoming students have the minimum knowledge needed to be successful at this academic level. Curriculums vary, but most will include aspects of both management and healthcare. Those enrolled can typically expect for instruction in business topics, 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 administration 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 seeking advanced careers in healthcare administration. As previously mentioned, many companies and organizations give preference to candidates with master’s degrees, making them appealing for prospective students. Graduates may also earn promotions faster and make more money than those with less education. 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 healthcare management can consist of between 60 and 120 credit hours that can take full-time students up to seven years to complete. While program structure and length varies, students can generally expect to complete residencies and/or dissertations in addition to traditional classroom learning. This level of higher educational also tends to include a significant amount of independent study and research. Curriculums differ, but those enrolled are likely to spend most of their time learning about advanced healthcare administration, finance, legal, and ethical topics. Classes related to healthcare data and informatics are also common.

This type of degree is typically only needed for professionals who intend to lead large teams of healthcare workers or who want to conduct research in the healthcare industry. Graduates will be able to pursue a variety of employment opportunities, with access to some of the highest-paying jobs in the field. Top employment options generally include postsecondary educator and hospital CEO.

Become a Healthcare Management in Arkansas

If you intend to become a healthcare manager in Arkansas, it’s important that you identify your ultimate career goals as early as possible. There are many potential professions to choose from in the field and it can be exceptionally helpful to narrow your focus. This will help you determine what level of education is necessary to be successful and/or meet standard minimum hiring expectations for employers. You will also be able to select the most appropriate elective courses, minor areas of study, concentrations, and/or internship opportunities while working toward your degree.

While Arkansas does not have an established minimum education level for healthcare management professionals, those interested in this type of work typically obtain bachelor’s degrees. Notably, however, individual companies and organizations set their own hiring standards when seeking new employees. As a result, it’s important to always review job descriptions and expectations prior to applying for new positions.

After achieving the necessary level of education for your desired profession, you may benefit from obtaining one or more certifications relevant to the field. Additional credentials often demonstrate knowledge and skills in subjects beyond the minimums covered while earning academic degrees. These are rarely directly required by employers, but they can help you stand out among other qualified individuals during the hiring process. They can also lead to increased promotional opportunities and/or higher pay.

Notably, there is no single most important credential recommended for healthcare managers. Professionals in the field are generally able to choose which certifications they want to pursue, although most are relevant to areas of interest and specific jobs sought.

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)

It’s also common for healthcare administration workers to seek membership with related professional organizations and associations. These bodies commonly offer many benefits 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:

  • Arkansas Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)
  • 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)

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Careers for Healthcare Management Graduates

  • Administrative Coordinator
    Administrative coordinators may be responsible for many tasks, from providing employee support to supervising staff members. They regularly perform budget management for the companies they work for, as well as function as a bridge between various departments, vendors, and other workers. It’s also not uncommon for these professionals to hire, evaluate, and/or determine work assignments for team members. According to PayScale, administrative coordinators make an average base salary of $48,350 per year.
  • Assisted Living Administrator
    Assisted living administrators oversee admittance into assisted living facilities. These professionals are often responsible for managing facility financial matters, hiring new employees, and reviewing staff performance. They may also be asked to oversee various aspects of daily facility operations. According to PayScale, assisted living administrators make an average base salary of $60,300 per year.
  • Chief Compliance Officer
    Chief compliance officers oversee financial operations for companies and organizations, often by helping stakeholders decide whether or not to approve initiatives that require executive budget approval. Additionally, these professionals must ensure company operations adhere to various rules, regulations, policies, and laws, as well as investigating compliance issues and acting upon findings when necessary. In some cases, they may also review and revise codes of conduct. According to PayScale, chief compliance officers make an average base salary of $123,250 per year.
  • Chief Operations Officer
    Chief operations officers are typically responsible for planning and overseeing operations associated with projects, as well as ensuring associated expenses and financial reports are transparent. These professionals also often generate and establish strategies intended to increase overall company profitability. Additionally, they may develop internal training programs for new products and/or services. According to PayScale, chief operations officers make an average base salary of $120,600 per year.
  • Clinical Manager
    Clinical managers provide primary and ongoing care for patients in clinical and medical offices. Other responsibilities include selecting staff members, training new employees, providing worker supervision, and managing day-to-day treatment strategies. These professionals may also be expected to ensure patient care and scheduling are properly organized and effective. According to PayScale, clinical managers make an average base salary of $73,600 per year.
  • Health Information Manager
    Health information managers establish reliable record-keeping methods so that all medical information is stored and transmitted in legal and ethical ways. They also make sure other workers follow storage and transfer procedures appropriately. Additionally, these professionals may be expected to develop and implement new heath policies. According to PayScale, health information managers make an average base salary of $57,650 per year.
  • Healthcare Administrator
    Healthcare administrators are generally upper management employees responsible for leading staffs of nurses and nursing assistants. These professionals often coordinate staff training, as well as conducting performance reviews for subordinates. They may ensure their facilities meet various accreditation standards. According to PayScale, healthcare administrators make an average base salary of $74,500 per year.
  • Healthcare Consultant
    Healthcare consultants help optimize patient care, cost management, and overall efficiency for their clients. These professionals are often responsible for assessing various aspects of the facility including administrative effectiveness, legal compliance, work environment, procedural flow, and financial processes. Once potential problems are identified, they research possible solutions and communicate suggestions to stakeholders. According to PayScale, healthcare consultants make an average base salary of $80,350 per year.
  • Hospice Administrator
    Hospice administrators are generally responsible for overseeing all aspects of hospice care programs including staffing, financial management, client interactions, community relations, and compliance. These professionals often monitor programmatic spending, taking steps to secure grants and community funding when necessary. They may also manage general business recordkeeping. According to PayScale, hospice administrators make an average base salary of $89,850 per year.
  • Medical Secretary
    Medical secretaries work in clinics, hospitals, and other medical facilities, performing a variety of administrative duties as assigned. This can include greeting customers, answering phone calls, and scheduling appointments. They may also be tasked with communicating 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 service representatives perform a variety of tasks related to patient intake and care such as making greetings, collecting payments, answering phones, scheduling appointments, and filing paperwork. As the first point of contact for individuals entering medical facilities, 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.
  • Rehabilitation Manager
    Rehabilitation managers are high-level administrators who oversee daily operations for physical, mental health, and addiction recovery facilities. These professionals often manage all aspects of hiring, training, and supervising staff members. They are also expected to ensure all employee and government regulations and guidelines are followed properly. According to PayScale, rehabilitation managers make an average base salary of $88,550 per year.

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