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What is Healthcare Management?

California is one of our biggest states, by both geographical size and economic volume. In fact, California is the nation’s largest economy, dwarfing the economies of many small countries. As the popular saying goes, California is kind of a big deal.

Since most of us associate California with sunny beaches, surfers, and big cities like LA and San Francisco, it's no wonder that its economy is led by real estate. The state's real estate sector brings in a whopping $500 billion in revenue and leads the nation. It would seem that everyone is clamoring to get close to those sunny shores, to live in Silicon Valley, or perhaps to luxuriate in the cool fog of the San Francisco Bay. The California economy is more than excellent real estate, however.

Professional and business services come in at #2 in the state's economy. This sector brings in close to $400 billion and also leads the nation. For perspective, the #2 leader in this sector is New York, with less than $250 billion in revenue. In fact, California leads the nation in all its top sectors. Their #3 economic spot is taken by manufacturing, which is then followed by information and the 5th top industry, social services, which includes healthcare and education.

It's easy to see that healthcare management is a major part of the Californian economic landscape. Every clinic, private practice, and major healthcare system needs managers and others in health administration to ensure smooth and efficient operations. These healthcare systems thus need a supportive health management education system that produces knowledgeable, skilled professionals who can enter and lead the industry. To answer the call, California's colleges and universities seek out the very best faculty members possible.

A healthcare manager is a professional who has been specifically trained to work in the healthcare arena. Healthcare managers are in a special industry that has not only a particular breed of worker but is also governed by particular laws. The industry works with unique financial structures in that healthcare systems are often non-profit, receive funding from insurers, and may also bill services to government agencies.

Healthcare managers, like those in other sectors, tend to focus on particular parts of their industry. Some may be operations managers at the clinic level, while others oversee sprawling hospital complexes. They also manage human resources, information technology, and even marketing departments. Many healthcare managers enter their administrative roles from the clinical side, but many others enter as graduates of health services administration degree programs from one of California's excellent colleges and universities. Note that healthcare managers who come from a clinical role tend to remain in the clinical environment unless they receive additional training to work elsewhere in the healthcare system.

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Online Healthcare Management Education in California

Healthcare programs in the UC and CSU systems are always seeking to strengthen their programs with the most knowledgeable faculty possible. They recruit academics whose doctoral dissertations have covered cutting edge topics in health management and health administration. These PhDs can enter as full-time and tenure-track professors. Healthcare management departments serving health systems also look for appropriately degreed healthcare administrators from their local area.

Since each state manages its healthcare differently, instructors with practical experience in the California economy can be a real boon to their undergraduate students. For example, an instructor with state-specific experience can relay anecdotes and personal insights into Cal Health, the state's healthcare initiative. They may also have the sort of hands-on knowledge and experience that can inspire students as they proceed towards their bachelor’s degrees.

Online Associate Degree in Healthcare Management (AS)

California is well-known for its excellent and affordable higher educational systems, and its community colleges are no exception. Students who start their careers with an associate healthcare management degree can enter an entry-level position with a top healthcare system. The degree provides students with a fundamental understanding of the issues associated with healthcare administration so that they can hit the ground running on the first day.

An associate degree from a California community college requires that students also complete the core, general education college curriculum before they move on to their health management education, which helps them sharpen skills such as writing, mathematics, and science. Given that healthcare is based in science, it will be useful for students to learn as much about human biology as possible. It may be helpful to bolster their degrees with courses in allied health fields.

Associate healthcare administration degree programs are also helpful in that community college credits are far more affordable than those from any four-year institution. Thus, those who have the long-term goal of earning a bachelor’s degree and rising into upper management can do so with far less financial burden.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Management (BS)

A four-year bachelor’s healthcare management degree from one of the excellent colleges or university programs in California is perhaps the best foundation for a brilliant career. Over the course of four years, students are able to dive deeper into the issues that face healthcare administrators on a daily basis. They can also branch out and enhance their degrees with minor concentrations in related fields such as mathematics, economics, marketing, or even sociology.

Bachelor’s healthcare administration degree programs also help students succeed by providing internship opportunities. Students are strongly advised to build on their classroom knowledge with real-world experience in the health administration of a clinic, private doctor's office, or major healthcare system. Since some of California's universities already have health systems associated with their campuses, students might be even more exposed. Some may even take part-time jobs in health administration at offices among these healthcare systems. Some top choices include UCLA Health, UCSF Health, UC San Diego Health, UC Davis Health, and UCI Health.

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Online Master's Degree in Healthcare Management (MS or MC)

Students can boost their careers to the next level with a master’s healthcare management degree. A Master of Healthcare Administration degree is highly valued in the industry, so any student who is working on their bachelor’s degree should start looking into an MHA degree once they reach their third or fourth year of undergraduate studies. Another popular option is an MBA with a concentration in health care management, public health, health finance, etc. These university programs can provide students with a variety of options in business administration to work as health services managers, in medical group practice management, in human resources management in the health care industry and healthcare organizations, and other management positions such as financial management, strategic planning, etc.

The MBA route may result in well-rounded healthcare professionals who has been given a deep dive into the fundamentals of business alongside a full year that is focused on their industry. Others might choose a dual-MBA where they can complete an MS in healthcare administration along with an MBA. This way, students can use their MBA concentration to focus on a topic that will bring their career to a new level. Students might choose an MBA concentration such as leadership, information technology, or finance, which they can apply in their healthcare career. Some move into health care administration with a healthcare management education after completing a collegiate nursing education, and some start after working in the field for some time.

Online PhD Degree in Healthcare Management (PhD)

Though most healthcare management hiring managers are unlikely to look for an PhD as part of their hiring rubric, this top-level degree may come in handy. This is because more and more students are earning an MBA or MHA, so a PhD may help the holder stand out from the pack. They might focus their dissertation research on a topic that has a direct impact on the healthcare industry as a whole, which those already in health administration may appreciate.

Those with a PhD in healthcare management might also consider a move into healthcare consulting once they graduate. Their research skills can be very valuable to healthcare systems who can hire them to analyze their organization or to produce a white paper on the healthcare industry as a whole. Lobbying groups or think-tanks may also want to hire a PhD in healthcare management who can help them broaden their view of that industry, and the economy in general.

Become a Healthcare Management in California

Students in California are lucky in that they can choose from nearly any industry for their career path. The state is the leader in most industries in the United States, and even the world, so they can perhaps rise to the top of the very top of the world. However, this means that California's students have a lot to choose from, which can be overwhelming for a young high school student.

However, those who may feel that a California business degree provides too many options can instead opt for a healthcare management track. Before they reach college, however, high schoolers can consider ways to prepare for a career in healthcare administration. One way to get a start is in a STEM high school that will offer them the opportunity to dive deeper into mathematics and possibly medicine. Though they may not desire a career on the clinical side of healthcare, the knowledge and insights will be a boon to them in management. High schoolers might also look for summer jobs in a hospital or volunteer opportunities in hospitals or other healthcare environments.

When their third and fourth year of high school rolls around, students should start looking for the best California university degree program for them. The UC system in particular has many options that are affiliated with healthcare systems. Barring that, CSU's campuses offer not only top-notch, accredited instruction but are surely near to non-university healthcare systems. Students should also investigate all their choices for their course offerings, among other attributes.

One chief attribute of a great healthcare administration degree program is its accreditation. All of California's public colleges and universities are sure to have regional accreditation, if not more. For those looking for a healthcare management degree program, you’ll want to consider those with accreditation from AACSB, ACBSP, or IACBE. A regional accreditation from a CHEA-approved agency is fantastic, but one of those program-specific accreditations is worth even more. This is because each of them focuses solely on business or business-related degree programs. Healthcare management degree programs with accreditation from AACSB, ACBSP, or IACBE are sure to be nationally recognized for excellence. Furthermore, working students may find that their employer offers more money for tuition reimbursement for a degree from such a credentialed degree program. Students can note that all degree levels may hold such a program-specific accreditation.

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Careers for Healthcare Management Graduates

  • Healthcare Consultant:
    This career path often requires a master’s degree in healthcare administration, or an MBA with a healthcare focus. Healthcare consultants can focus their work on a number of specialized areas such as healthcare finance, healthcare informatics, marketing, management, or healthcare operations management. Many healthcare consultants transition into a full-time position with one of their clients.
  • Hospital Administrator:
    Every hospital needs an administrator to guide the ship. Hospital administrators often hold a Master of Healthcare Administration degree, or some other related master’s healthcare management degree. Health administration professionals in hospital systems often rise to the top from a specialized department within the hospital but have the credentials, knowledge, and experience needed to oversee the whole healthcare system.
  • Administrative Support Specialist:
    These professionals need strong organizational skills, as well as the ability to multi-task. Those who work in a healthcare setting might benefit from an associate healthcare administration degree or a two-year degree in accounting or general business. Often, workers who start in a health administration role can work their way up into management. It's not uncommon for a healthcare system to offer their support specialists tuition reimbursement, though this is not guaranteed.
  • Medical Secretary:
    This is a health administration position that requires that workers know medical codes and terminology. Depending on their specific setting they may send invoices to insurers. Sometimes they even need to discuss cases with insurers and make sure their office or doctor is paid for the tests and procedures they provide.
  • Hospice Administrator:
    These healthcare administrators oversee the doctors and nurses who work with terminally ill individuals. Though they may not work in the clinic, hospice professionals all need to have a good bedside manner for grieving families, not to mention to the hospice patients themselves. Hospice administrators often rise to their position from a nursing career or even a career as a medical doctor.
  • Assisted Living Administrator or Nursing Home Administrator:
    While these facilities are often associated with one or more doctors who oversee the patients, there is a strong need for an administrator who can manage and lead the nursing and operations staff. Nursing home administrators often need to meet with potential residents or their families and provide them with a personal tour or at least an interview to help them make the best choice for their aged family member.
  • Physician Practice Manager:
    These healthcare professionals are often nurses who migrate into the administrative side of a physician practice. Their hands-on experience in the clinic informs their ability to manage the nurses and operations in the practice. Most will eventually need to return to school for a Master of Healthcare Administration.
  • Chief Compliance Officer:
    Compliance officers are a vital part of any healthcare team. They make sure that all parts of the clinical and other operations are compliant with the law. Since the medical field is fraught with regulations regarding healthcare delivery and privacy laws, compliance officers must constantly review new rules and regulations, while scrutinizing their hospital or healthcare system to ensure compliance.

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