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What is Healthcare Management?

Earning a degree in health management or healthcare administration offers opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills needed to help medical facilities provide optimal care to patients. Many Kansas colleges and universities offer degree options relevant to this field. While career outcomes vary, graduates are generally prepared to develop and administer healthcare programs for individuals and families in many different medical settings. They often work for hospitals, health insurance companies, and nursing homes.

Healthcare managers often work for medical clinics, groups of physicians, large medical practices, or hospitals. While expectations can vary, these professionals are typically responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating the medical and health services offered by these facilities. They are often tasked with improving the efficiency and quality of the health care delivered. In some cases, this means overseeing just one service, while others manage multiple options.

While assignment differ, it’s not common for healthcare managers to take on many different roles. These professionals may be expected to develop strategic departmental goals and objectives, as well as recruit, train, and supervise staff members. Additionally, they may be responsible for various budgeting tasks such as facilitating patient payments, monitoring available finances, and ensuring operating costs are within established limits. Further expectations often consist of verifying all work is up to date and in compliance with state and national regulations, as well as communicating with other medical professionals. It’s common for healthcare managers to work closely with physicians, surgeons, registered nurses, and medical laboratory technicians.

The majority of healthcare managers work for state, local, or private hospitals, although positions are also available in physician offices, nursing homes, residential care facilities, and outpatient care centers. Most work full-time, with evening and weekend hours possible, especially when part of on-call emergency rotations.

It’s important to realize that these professionals may go by different titles, depending on their areas of expertise and work setting. Many are referred to as healthcare executives, but other common jobs include nursing home administrator, clinical manager, and health information manager.

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Online Healthcare Management Education in Kansas

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.

Educational services, healthcare, and social assistance is the fourth largest industry in Kansas, accounting for $100 billion in revenue each year. Based on data provided by the BLS, the state employed 4,500 medical services managers in May 2021. Additionally, the annual mean wage for these professionals in the state was $102,230. Notably, this is significantly above the reported annual mean wage of $49,680 for all occupations in Kansas.

Many colleges and universities in Kansas offer traditional and online health management education programs. Distance learning allows students to study from nearly anywhere in the world, but those who intend to seek employment in state should strongly consider enrolling with local institutions. These schools tend to be more familiar with occupational standards and expectations in the region and, as a result, often offer more geographically relevant curriculums. It’s also common for colleges and universities to establish relationships with nearby companies and organizations, which can make it easier to obtain internships and professional employment.

Most healthcare companies and organizations establish their own hiring standards and expectations for professionals in the field. As a result, education requirements can vary significantly. While some entry-level employment opportunities may be available to those with limited academic experience, most employers expect healthcare manager candidates to have some amount of higher education.

Prospective students can choose from academic programs available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. While bachelor’s degrees are most common, master’s degrees often improve job prospects and lead to higher pay.

Online Associate Degree in Healthcare Management (AS)

Associate degrees in healthcare administration generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. These are undergraduate programs that are typically comprised of liberal arts and major-specific classes. Those enrolled can expect to study topics in communication, mathematics, and science, as well as those relevant to the field. Curriculums vary, but healthcare administration students often receive instruction in healthcare technology, medical terminology, marketing, and medical office administration. It’s also common for those enrolled to learn the fundamentals of working in medical offices, which often includes utilizing various popular technologies, data systems, and medical coding methods.

This type of degree is optimal for those who want to pursue entry-level administrative jobs in healthcare right away and without acquiring significant student debt. Most associate programs in healthcare administration are offered by community colleges, which tend to have lower tuition and fee rates. Graduates are also able to join the workforce after only two years. Some common employment opportunities available at this level include medical secretary, medical assistant, and medical records technician.

Graduates can also choose to pursue further education by enrolling in bachelor’s degree programs. Associate degrees provide a great foundation for additional higher education. Undergraduate credits earned can also be transferred to other accredited institutions. Many colleges and universities accept up to 60 or 90 semester hours in transfer, which generally equates to about half of most bachelor’s degrees. In most cases, those with associate-level education will enter four-year programs as juniors rather than freshmen.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Management (BS)

Bachelor’s degrees in health management or healthcare administration generally consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. You'll usually take a Bachelor of Science in health administration, though there might be other options available. Like associate degrees, these are undergraduate programs typically comprised of liberal arts and major-specific classes. Those enrolled can expect to study topics in communication, mathematics, and science, as well as those relevant to the field. Curriculums vary, but health services administration students often receive instruction in healthcare law, management information systems, and budgeting in healthcare. Other subjects commonly covered include principles in marketing, business law, and ethics.

Notably, many healthcare administration students are expected to participate in placements. These provide real-world, hands-on experience in the field that can prove useful in various work settings in the future. In most cases, internship opportunities are meant to supplement and support classroom learning, helping those enrolled hone their knowledge and skills. Paid or unpaid, these placements allow students to build connections in the field. In some cases, internships at the undergraduate level can even lead to full-time employment after graduation.

This type of degree is ideal for those who plan to pursue jobs 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.

Not all graduates seek employment right away, however. Many choose to continue their education by enrolling in graduate school. Master’s degrees can be highly beneficial, often leading to more career opportunities and higher pay. Individuals 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.

Online Master's Degree in Healthcare Management (MS)

Master’s degrees in health management generally range from 30 to 45 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two to three years to complete. At the graduate level, undergraduate credits are no longer applicable. It’s important to realize, however, that some programs have established undergraduate prerequisites that must be met prior to enrollment. This is generally most applicable to those with bachelor’s degrees in other unrelated subjects.

Curriculums vary by institution, but focus solely on subjects relevant to health services administration. Topics commonly covered include management, business, accounting, healthcare, as well as medical terminology, hospital organization, health information systems and health informatics, health services management, human resources administration, strategic planning, health economics, and other concepts within the framework of a healthcare system.

Additionally, it’s typical for a master’s healthcare administration degree to require that students participate in supervised administrative experiences in hospitals and/or various healthcare consulting settings. These opportunities vary, but generally allow those enrolled to gain hands-on experience that can be applied in workplaces later. In most cases, students can expect residencies to last up to a year.

This type of degree is not necessarily required by employers, but it can lead to more advanced employment opportunities. Not only will graduates qualify for more occupations, but many companies and organizations give preference to candidates who possess master’s degrees even when they are not necessary. Some of the most common employment opportunities available after graduation 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 or healthcare administration can consist of between 60 and 120 credit hours that may take full-time students up to seven years to complete. Every college and university establishes its own program structure and length, making it important for prospective students to compare options carefully before enrolling. Curriculums also differ, but are typically comprised of some combination of traditional classroom learning, independent study, research, dissertation writing, and residency work. Topics commonly covered include advanced healthcare administration, finance, medical law, and ethics, as well as healthcare data and informatics.

These terminal degrees are best-suited for individuals who plan to pursue employment in healthcare industry research or academia. Graduates may also qualify to lead large teams of other healthcare workers or obtain jobs as hospital CEOs.

Become a Healthcare Management in Kansas

One of the first steps to becoming a healthcare manager in Kansas is identifying your ultimate career goals. As mentioned above, earning degrees in this field can lead to a wide variety of professional employment opportunities. Every occupation is unique, however, with differing standards and expectations for employees. Determining your preferred occupation early is often beneficial, as it allows you to focus your efforts on gaining the most appropriate knowledge, skills, and work experience necessary for success. Not only will you have more professional insight when selecting the most appropriate academic program, but you can also plan out which elective courses, minors, concentrations, and/or internships are likely to be beneficial.

While the majority of workers in this field tend to possess bachelor’s degrees, it’s important to realize that Kansas does not have an established minimum education level for health management professionals. Generally, individual companies and organizations establish their own hiring standards. Notably, however, candidates who possess more advanced degrees are typically preferred and often earn higher salaries. In fact, it’s fairly common for professionals in this field to obtain master’s degrees in order to ensure greater career prospects and stability.

After earning the necessary degree(s) for your intended occupation, you may benefit from obtaining one or more relevant healthcare administration certifications. Additional credentials related to healthcare administration demonstrate your dedication to the field. They also function as a great way to highlight your knowledge and skills in specialty subjects.

It’s important to realize that relatively few healthcare management jobs explicitly require certification. Employers do, however, tend to give preference to candidates who possess them. In many cases, preferred credentials are listed on job postings.

While there is no single most recommended certification in the field, there are many different credentials available for healthcare administration professionals to choose from. The best course of action is typically to select options directly related to your chosen career.

Some prominent examples 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)

Additionally, it’s common for healthcare management professionals to seek membership with related organizations and associations. Members often gain many benefits, including access to academic journals, discounted continuing education, and the ability to participate in networking events.

A few common options in this field include:

  • 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

  • Assisted Living Administrator
    Assisted living administrators are responsible for overseeing the operation of assisted living facilities. They may have many different responsibilities, but are often in charge of facility admittance procedures, financial matters, employee hiring practices, and staff performance assessment. According to PayScale, assisted living administrators make an average base salary of $60,308 per year.
  • Chief Compliance Officer
    Chief compliance officers are responsible for managing various financial operations for companies and organizations. They ensure their employers comply with all relevant financial rules, regulations, policies, and laws. When necessary, they also investigate potential and identified compliance issues, acting upon their findings appropriately. Additionally, CCOs are expected to help business stakeholders decide whether or not to provide executive budget approval for new and continuing company initiatives. According to PayScale, chief compliance officers make an average base salary of $123,243 per year.
  • Clinical Manager
    Clinical managers are responsible for providing primary and ongoing care for patients in clinical and medical offices. This generally entails overseeing day-to-day treatment strategies prescribed by healthcare providers, as well as selecting, training, and supervising staff members. They may also be tasked with ensuring patient care and scheduling practices are effective and well organized. According to PayScale, clinical managers make an average base salary of $73,583 per year.
  • Health Information Manager
    Health information managers are responsible for ensuring the storage and transfer of all medical information is legal and ethical. They typically establish record-keeping methods and confirm staff members are properly utilizing procedures for data storage and transfer. They are also often expected to create and implement new healthcare information management policies when issues arise. According to PayScale, health information managers make an average base salary of $57,626 per year.
  • Healthcare Administrator
    Healthcare administrators are responsible for managing nursing and nursing assistant teams. Expectations can vary, but they are often tasked with coordinating staff trainings and conducting regular performance reviews. They may also verify all necessary accreditation standards are met. According to PayScale, healthcare administrators make an average base salary of $74,500 per year.
  • Hospice Administrator
    Hospice administrators are responsible for coordinating all aspects of the hospice care programs offered in medical care facilities they work for. In addition to interacting with clients, they are often expected to oversee community relations, compliance, business recordkeeping, budgeting, monitoring spending for programs, and taking steps to secure grants and other funding. Additionally, they are typically expected to select, train, and supervise staff members. According to PayScale, hospice administrators make an average base salary of $89,869 per year.
  • Medical Secretary
    Medical secretaries are responsible for performing a wide variety of administrative duties for the clinics, hospitals, and other medical facilities that employ them. This often entails greeting customers, answering phone calls, and scheduling appointments, as well as communicating with insurance companies to determine client eligibility for certain treatments and rates. According to PayScale, medical secretaries make an average base salary of $39,871 per year.
  • Patient Services Representative
    Patient services representatives are generally responsible for a variety of tasks related to patient intake and care at healthcare facilities. As the first point of contact, they often provide greetings, answer phones, schedule appointments, and verify patient information before entering it into tracking systems. They may also be tasked with collecting payments and filing patient paperwork appropriately. According to PayScale, patient services representatives make an average base salary of $40,371 per year.
  • Rehabilitation Manager
    Rehabilitation managers ensure physical, mental health, and addiction recovery facilities are run properly. In addition to overseeing daily operations, this also entails managing all aspects related to hiring, training, and supervising staff members. In some cases, they may be expected to verify all government regulations and guidelines are followed. According to PayScale, rehabilitation managers make an average base salary of $88,541 per year.

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