For the smooth functioning of any hospital or healthcare facility, Health Care Management professionals are needed to handle the administrative arm of hospital management.

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are complex organizations that require the expertise of trained administrative staff like health care management personnel. A health care manager works in an administrative or organizational capacity and ensures the smooth functioning of either a specific department or the entire facility.

What is it really?
Health care managers are employed by hospitals, local health clinics, research institutes, government and local bodies, and even pharmaceutical and insurance companies. The duties of a health care manager will vary depending upon the type of medical facility, but in general, include:

  • Responsibility for legal and ethical matters
  • HR and staffing issues
  • Overseeing quality control and patient outcomes
  • Logistical and supply issues
  • Facility and building management
  • Ensuring access to required technology and training
  • Co-ordination with other organizations such as insurance companies and HMOs
  • Ensuring accounting and auditing integrity
  • Public relations
  • Working with regulatory bodies

Of course, your level of seniority and the type of facility you work at will also affect your responsibilities and it is likely that as you gain experience, you’ll be awarded greater responsibility. At larger organizations, you might start off in a particular department and specialize in a certain field, while smaller organizations might have a more generalized organizational structure.

A career as a health care manager requires certain traits and abilities such as attention to detail, excellent communications skills, negotiation and mediation skills, and a willingness to put in overtime as and when required. Keep in mind that at the end of the day, health care managers need to be excellent administrators and organizers – a ‘can-do’ attitude, delegation and teamwork skills, the ability to withstand stress, and good problem-solving abilities are also essential for success in this field.

What does a health care manager study?
Courses for health care managers can be found at any level – Certificate, Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s. Some courses might lay more emphasis on the day-to-day functioning of a healthcare facility, while other might focus more on policy and regulatory issues.

While most students earlier preferred to study for a degree in health administration or public health, many are now opting for an MBA in healthcare management and administration. Medical personnel such as doctors, nurses, and technicians can also enter this profession by adding managerial qualifications to their healthcare industry experience.

You can also seek industry-recognized certifications such as the American Hospital Association’s Certified Healthcare Facility Manager, Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Professional, Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management, or Certified Healthcare Constructor. Depending upon your existing qualifications, you can also pick up higher certifications as you gain more work experience.

Where can I work?
According to the Department of Labor, the median salary of medical and health service managers in 2010 was around $84,000, with job growth over 2010-2020 estimated at a faster-than-average rate of 22 percent.

Most health care managers work in hospitals and clinics. Other major employers include government agencies, local administrative bodies, pharmaceutical companies, and research organizations; it is also possible to channelize your health care management experience into a research, consultancy, or public policy career.