How Can I Become a Health Services Manager?

Health services managers oversee the delivery of health care in hospitals, physician's offices or other medical facilities. Learn what education and training you'll need to work as health services manager. Schools offering Health Care Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Degree Do I Need to Become a Health Services Manager?

To become a health services manager, you typically need a master's degree. However, a bachelor's degree may qualify you for some entry-level management positions or jobs in smaller facilities or departments. In some smaller settings, such as doctors' offices, you may be able to earn a management position based on experience alone.

Many schools offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral health administration programs designed to train aspiring health services managers. Such programs are often offered through a university's school of business, public health, medicine, public administration or allied health sciences.

You can obtain a list of accredited health programs from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education, or CAHME (www.cahme.org). About 70 of these accredited programs are offered at the master's degree level. Some of these programs are executive programs designed to accommodate working professionals. Others will allow you to earn a master's degree entirely online.

What Will I Study?

In a master's degree program in health administration, you'll study the delivery of health services in the U.S., as well as health law and policy, health planning, health care reimbursement and managed care. You'll also likely take a variety of business and management courses, such as financial management, marketing, human resource management, organizational behavior, research methods and information systems. Each of these will likely be specifically tailored to the field of health services.

Full-time programs typically require 2-3 years to complete, although part-time options are also available. A thesis is a requirement of some health administration programs, but others replace this component with a supervised administrative residency.

Some health administration master's programs are general in focus, while others allow you to specialize in a particular type of facility, such as a hospital, mental health center or nursing home. You'll need a bachelor's degree in health administration or business to enter some programs, while others accept applicants with a liberal arts education or an undergraduate degree in another health field. Courses in accounting, statistics and economics are common prerequisites.

Where Might I Work?

As a health services manager, you might find employment in a variety of settings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly 40% of medical and health services managers were employed in hospitals as of 2008 (www.bls.gov). However, you might also work in a physician's office, nursing care facility, outpatient care center or home health care services. Still other employment opportunities exist in government health care facilities and community care centers designed for the elderly.

What Could My Job Entail?

As a health services manager, it'll be your job to supervise and plan health care delivery. You might supervise a specific department or an entire health care facility or system, making sure that everything runs smoothly. You could also be called a health care administrator or health care executive.

Depending on the size of the facility, you might have assistant administrators working beneath you. Some of the tasks you might be responsible for include budgeting, billing and collection, planning, patient flow and personnel decisions. In a larger setting, you might focus on just one or a few of these areas, where in smaller settings you could manage them all.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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