How to Become a Medical or Health Services Manager
Medical and health services managers must effectively communicate policies and procedures with other health professionals.
Most medical and health services managers have at least a bachelor’s degree before entering the field. However, master’s degrees are common and sometimes preferred by employers. Educational requirements vary by facility and specific function.
Medical and health services managers typically need at least a bachelor's degree to enter the occupation. However, master’s degrees are common and sometimes preferred by employers. Graduate programs often last between 2 and 3 years and may include up to 1 year of supervised administrative experience in a hospital or healthcare consulting setting.
Common majors for medical and health services managers include healthcare and related fields, such as health administration, nursing, or public policy and social services. Degrees that focus on both management and healthcare combine business-related courses with courses in medical terminology, hospital organization, and health information systems. For example, a degree in health administration or health information management often includes courses in health services management, accounting and budgeting, human resources administration, strategic planning, law and ethics, health economics, and health information systems.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Many employers require prospective medical and health services managers to have some work experience in either an administrative or a clinical role in a hospital or other healthcare facility. For example, nursing home administrators usually have years of experience working as a registered nurse.
Others may begin their careers as medical records and health information technicians, administrative assistants, or financial clerks within a healthcare office.
Analytical skills. Medical and health services managers must understand and follow current regulations and adapt to new laws.
Communication skills. These managers must effectively communicate policies and procedures to other health professionals and ensure their staff’s compliance with new laws and regulations.
Detail oriented. Medical and health services managers must pay attention to detail. They might be required to organize and maintain scheduling and billing information for very large facilities, such as hospitals.
Interpersonal skills. Medical and health services managers discuss staffing problems and patient information with other professionals, such as physicians and health insurance representatives.
Leadership skills. These managers are often responsible for finding creative solutions to staffing or other administrative problems. They must hire, train, motivate, and lead staff.
Technical skills. Medical and health services managers must stay up to date with advances in healthcare technology and data analytics. For example, they may need to use coding and classification software and electronic health record (EHR) systems as their facility adopts these technologies.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
All states require licensure for nursing home administrators; requirements vary by state. In most states, these administrators must have a bachelor’s degree, complete a state-approved training program, and pass a national licensing exam. Some states also require applicants to pass a state-specific exam; others may require applicants to have previous work experience in a healthcare facility. Some states also require licensure for administrators in assisted-living facilities. For information on specific state-by-state licensure requirements, visit the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards.
A license is typically not required in other areas of medical and health services management. However, some positions may require applicants to have a registered nurse or social worker license.
Although certification is not required, some managers choose to become certified. Certification is available in many areas of practice. For example, the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management offers certification in medical management, the American Health Information Management Association offers health information management certification, and the American College of Health Care Administrators offers the Certified Nursing Home Administrator and Certified Assisted Living Administrator distinctions.
Medical and health services managers advance by moving into higher paying positions with more responsibility. Some health information managers, for example, can advance to become responsible for the entire hospital’s information systems. Other managers may advance to top executive positions within the organization. Advancement to top level executive positions usually requires a master’s degree.