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What is Healthcare Management?
Completing a health administration program can help you obtain the knowledge and skills needed to ensure medical facilities provide optimal care to their patients. Career outcomes vary, but professionals in this field often work for hospitals, health insurance companies, and nursing homes. Graduates are generally prepared to develop and administer healthcare programs in a wide variety of different medical settings.
Healthcare managers are typically employed by medical clinics, groups of physicians, large medical practices, or hospitals to plan, direct, and coordinate the medical and health services offered. While expectations can vary, these professionals are typically responsible improving the overall efficiency and quality of the health care delivered.
Expectations can vary significantly from job to job. While some healthcare managers oversee just one service, others manage multiple offerings. It’s also common for these professionals to take on many different roles, from developing strategic departmental goals and objectives to recruiting, training, and supervising staff members. They are also often tasked with facilitating patient payments, monitoring available finances, and ensuring operating costs are within established limits. Additionally, healthcare managers may be expected to verify all work performed complies with state and national regulations.
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 also common for these professionals to work very closely with other medical professionals such as physicians, surgeons, registered nurses, and medical laboratory technicians.
Notably, there are many different job titles for healthcare managers depending on area of expertise and work setting. One of the most commonly used designations is healthcare executive. Other similar professional labels include nursing home administrator, clinical manager, and health information manager.
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Online Healthcare Management Education in Kentucky
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 third largest industry in Kentucky, accounting for $20 billion in revenue each year. Based on data provided by the BLS, the state employed 8,990 medical and health services managers in May 2022. Additionally, the annual mean wage for these professionals in the state was $107,990. Notably, this is significantly above the reported annual mean wage of $51,490 for all occupations in Kentucky.
Programs of this type are offered by many colleges and universities in Kentucky, with both traditional and distance learning options available. While online degrees offer great flexibility and convenience, those seeking to work in the state should still give preference to local institutions. These schools work hard to ensure their curriculums address the needs and expectations of employers in the area. As a result, the programs they offer are much more geographically relevant than those provided by institutions outside the state. Colleges and universities also tend to establish strong relationships with other companies and organizations in their communities. This can be very beneficial to students and alumni when applying for internships and/or professional employment.
Education requirements can vary between jobs, as healthcare companies and organizations establish their own hiring standards and expectations for professionals in the field. A limited number of entry-level employment opportunities may be available to those with little or no higher education, but the majority of employers in the state expect applicants for healthcare administration positions to have degrees.
Colleges and universities often offer relevant academic programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Most professionals possess bachelor’s degrees, but master’s degrees are fairly common as well. Notably, more education typically leads to increased job opportunities and pay potential.
Online Associate Degree in Healthcare Management (AS)
Associate degrees in health administration generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. As undergraduate programs, they are typically comprised of both liberal arts and major-specific classes. Curriculums differ by institution, but students are likely to receive instruction in communication, mathematics, and the sciences, as well as healthcare technology, medical terminology, marketing, and medical office administration. Those enrolled might spend time developing fundamental skills necessary to work in medical offices. This may include learning how to utilize a variety of popular technologies, data systems, and medical coding methods common to the field.
This type of associate degree is optimal for individuals seeking employment as medical secretaries, medical assistants, and medical records technicians. Graduates may qualify for other entry-level administrative jobs in healthcare as well. Associate degrees can also be optimal for those hoping to limit the accumulation of student debt. Most of these programs are offered by community colleges, which typically charge less in tuition and fees. The fact that they can be completed in as few as two years is also appealing.
While many graduates seek employment right away, some choose to continue their education by enrolling in bachelor’s degree programs. This is often more beneficial than people realize as undergraduate credits can be transferred and applied towards new enrollments. Most colleges and universities accept up to 60 or 90 class hours from equally accredited institutions. As a result, incoming students with associate degrees may be designated as juniors instead of freshmen, with only two years of additional classes needed before attaining a higher level of education.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Management (BS)
Bachelor’s degrees in health administration generally consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. As undergraduate programs, they are typically comprised of both liberal arts and major-specific classes. Curriculums differ by institution, but students are likely to receive instruction in communication, mathematics, and the sciences, as well as healthcare law, management information systems, and budgeting in healthcare. Those enrolled are also likely to study other topics relevant to the field, such as principles in marketing, business law, and ethics.
In addition to standard coursework, it’s common for healthcare administration or public health management students to complete residencies or internships. These experiences are designed to supplement and support classroom learning. Those enrolled are often placed in healthcare facilities and expected to complete designated tasks. This provides real-world, hands-on experience in the field, which is often invaluable after entering the workforce. While the primary purpose is to help students hone their knowledge and skills, internships also provide opportunities to build connections with professionals in the field. In some cases, they can even lead to full-time employment after graduation.
This type of bachelor's degree is ideal for those who plan to pursue jobs as medical office administrators, healthcare human resources managers, health information officers, and community service managers. Graduates typically work in positions that deal with the business side of medical facilities and organizations.
Again, not all graduates seek employment right away. While qualified to many professions in the field, some opt to enroll in graduate school programs in order to further develop the skills and improve job prospects in the future. 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)
A Master of health administration generally range from 30 to 45 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two to three years to complete. Notably, undergraduate credit hours may not be transferred or applied towards learning at this level. Certain undergraduate courses may, however, be required as prerequisites for admittance. Typically, these must be met prior to enrollment.
While curriculums vary by institution, students can expect to receive instruction in subjects solely relevant to the field of health administration. Subjects most commonly covered include management, business, accounting, and healthcare, as well as medical terminology, hospital organization, health information systems, health services management, human resources administration, strategic planning, and health economics.
Those enrolled are also likely to participate in supervised administrative experiences to gain hands-on experience in the field. Students are typically placed in hospitals and/or various healthcare consulting settings similar to those required at the undergraduate level. These opportunities can last much longer, however, with some taking place over an entire year.
This type of master's degree is ideal for those interested in pursuing jobs as medical records supervisors, hospital administrators, health information management managers, and healthcare consultants. They may work in health services organizations, health planning agencies, public health agencies, group medical practices, etc. While not necessarily required by employers, master’s degrees often lead to more advanced employment opportunities and higher pay.
Online PhD Degree in Healthcare Management (PhD)
A PhD or doctorate in healthcare management can consist of between 60 and 120 credit hours that may take full-time students up to seven years to complete. Program specifics vary, however, so prospective students are encouraged to review the details carefully prior to enrollment. Depending on the institution, curriculums typically include some combination of traditional classroom learning, independent study, research, dissertation writing, and residency work. Those enrolled can generally expect to study advanced health administration, finance, medical law, and ethics, as well as healthcare data and informatics.
As terminal degrees, these 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 Kentucky
With many opportunities available to graduates who complete a health administration program, it’s important to start by taking time to carefully research possible occupations available in the field. This will help you determine your ultimate career goals, which can narrow your focus moving forward and ensure you obtain the knowledge, skills, and credentials needed for success. Because every profession has different standards and expectations, identifying your preferred job(s) is particularly helpful when selecting appropriate academic programs, minor areas of study, elective courses, concentrations, and/or internships.
There is no minimum established education level required for healthcare management professionals in Kentucky. While companies and organizations in the state are free to establish their own hiring standards, it’s important to note that most expect or require job candidates to possess bachelor’s degrees. At the very least, those with the most advanced education are likely to receive preference during the process. More educated applicants can also expect to secure higher salaries. As a result, many professionals in this field do choose to complete graduate programs.
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Once you have earned the recommended or required degree(s), it can be beneficial to obtain one or more relevant certifications. Additional credentials are a great way to demonstrate general proficiency in the field and various related specialty subjects. They also show an overall dedication to the career as a whole. While relatively few health administration jobs explicitly require certification, many employers do prefer to hire candidates who possess them.
Notably, there is no single health administration certification recommended above all the others. Instead, professionals can choose from many different credentials available based on occupation and/or area of specialty.
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)
Many health administration workers also opt to become members of relevant professional organizations and associations. While most are paid memberships, they often come with benefits. Members often gain access to academic journals, continuing education, discounts, and invitations to networking events.
A few common options in this field 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)
Potential Careers for Healthcare Management Graduates
- Administrative Coordinator
Administrative coordinators frequently function as the bridge between various departments, vendors, and company workers. Responsibilities vary, but they are often provide supervising staff members with employee support and assist with budget management, hiring, evaluating, and/or determining work assignments for new team members. According to PayScale, administrative coordinators make an average base salary of $48,358 per year.
- Assisted Living Administrator
Assisted living administrators are in charge of the daily operations at residential facilities intended to help individuals who require some level of additional support completing basic tasks. They typically oversee admittance procedures, budgeting, new employee onboarding, and staff performance evaluations. According to PayScale, assisted living administrators make an average base salary of $60,308 per year.
- Chief Compliance Officer
Chief compliance officers manage a variety of financial operations for their companies. They work to verify compliance with all relevant financial rules, regulations, policies, and laws but may also investigate potential compliance issues once identified. They may also 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.
- Health Information Manager
Health information managers work to ensure the storage and transfer of all medical information is legal and ethical. They establish record-keeping methods and confirm staff members are properly utilizing procedures for data storage and transfer. They may also 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 in charge of nursing and nursing assistant teams working in medical facilities. This means coordinating staff trainings and conducting regular performance reviews. They may also verify accreditation standards are properly met. According to PayScale, healthcare administrators make an average base salary of $74,500 per year.
- Healthcare Consultant
Healthcare consultants are brought in by medical facility administrators to help optimize patient care, cost management, or overall efficiency. They perform thorough assessments that examine effectiveness, legal compliance, work environment, procedural flow, and financial processes and are responsible for researching possible solutions to any problems identified throughout the process. According to PayScale, healthcare consultants make an average base salary of $80,351 per year.
- Hospice Administrator
Hospice administrators are hired by medical care facilities to coordinate various aspects of hospice care programs. While they regularly interact with clients, they are also responsible for overseeing community relations, legal compliance, and business recordkeeping, as well as selecting, training, and supervising staff members. They may also maintain program budgets, which entails monitoring spending and securing additional funding through grants. According to PayScale, hospice administrators make an average base salary of $89,869 per year.
- Medical Secretary
Medical secretaries work in clinics, hospitals, and other medical facilities. Responsibilities vary, but they are often tasked with performing a wide variety of administrative duties that might include greeting customers, answering phone calls, and scheduling appointments. They may also communicate 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.
- Rehabilitation Manager
Rehabilitation managers are in charge of running physical, mental health, and addiction recovery facilities. They are generally responsible for overseeing all daily operations and coordinating various activities associated with hiring, training, and supervising staff members. They also verify that all government regulations and guidelines are properly followed. According to PayScale, rehabilitation managers make an average base salary of $88,541 per year.