How to Become a Medical and Health Services Manager

A patient advocate helps a patient consult with a nurse.

Working in health care can be rewarding in many ways. Medical professionals have meaningful jobs, as they care for patients and their families, contribute to groundbreaking research, and help boost the economy.

Individuals with a background in nursing, management, and administration have a variety of opportunities to advance in the field. Those who are specifically interested in pursuing management roles can consider becoming medical and health services managers.

What Is Healthcare Service Management?

Healthcare service management revolves around a medical facility’s day-to-day operations and overall productivity. The field consists of managers, executives, and administrators who hold leadership roles in:

  • Medical facilities
  • Hospital network systems
  • Public health systems
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Clinics
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Hospitals

What Is a Medical and Health Services Manager?

Medical and health services managers can oversee an entire facility or a certain department within a facility. They make plans and coordinate the operations that take place within their domain.

As healthcare leaders, medical and health services managers should stay up to date on any changes in the medical field regarding laws, policies, procedures, and protocols.

Complying with industry regulations is essential. Additionally, understanding how to use the latest technology and medical equipment is a necessary aspect of the job. A health services manager’s typical roles and responsibilities include:

  • Managing the daily operations of a clinic, office, or hospital department
  • Screening, interviewing, and hiring new employees
  • Training new or current employees on new regulations, policies, and protocols
  • Ensuring quality care for patients and their families in different units
  • Making sure nursing units and departments are compliant and stay up to date with legal policies and laws
  • Attending board meetings on a regular basis
  • Overseeing the progress of programs
  • Guiding various teams through individual projects
  • Communicating with insurance agents
  • Establishing a vision for a facility with long- and short-term goals
  • Setting a plan for different departments and planning for potential challenges

Depending on their specific job description, medical and health services managers can also be in charge of administrative duties, including:

  • Creating budgets for various units and departments and making sure each one stays within their allotted budget
  • Keeping a record of how many patients are receiving care in the facility
  • Coordinating the schedules of employees, including registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, lab technologists, technicians, and other ancillary staff members
  • Taking inventory of supplies, equipment, and tools
  • Managing patient finances, including fees and billing
  • Using innovative solutions to solve problems

Medical and health services managers regularly communicate with the heads of different units and departments to ensure everyone is meeting their goals, providing high-quality care, and not encountering major issues.

As executives, they also meet with investors or board members on an ongoing basis, providing monthly or quarterly reports.

Medical and Health Services Manager Specializations

Job descriptions for medical and health services managers vary, depending on specific positions as well as medical facilities. Some serve as the only managers in a facility and oversee the administrators and managers of all the various units and departments within the building.

Some examples of specific health services management positions include:

Hospital Administrator

Hospital administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of a hospital, clinic, or other health care organization. On a daily basis, they:

  • Establish treatment standards and make health plans with primary care providers
  • Oversee patient billing and financial processes
  • Ensure the facility is complying with all legal standards
  • Meet with community health officials and plan outreach and fundraising events
  • Take inventory of supplies, personal protective equipment, tools, and essential devices
  • Supervise other administrators who work in smaller units or departments

Clinical Manager

Clinical managers can work in outpatient clinics, rehabilitation facilities, long-term care facilities, and physicians’ offices. They oversee both the clinical and administrative aspects of their facilities. Their job duties typically include:

  • Screening, interviewing, and recruiting new clinical, professional, and administrative staff members
  • Overseeing the training and development of new and current employees
  • Conducting staff performance reviews and determining areas for improvement
  • Developing new policies and implementing them across different departments
  • Managing the facility’s finances and creating a budget
  • Communicating with patients and their families about the billing process and treatment plan
  • Attending meetings with physicians in the practice, as well nurses and other staff members

Medical Records Manager

Medical records managers play an important role in healthcare service management. They are responsible for managing a facility’s medical and electronic health records. They usually work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, and physicians’ offices. Common duties include:

  • Protecting patients’ personal and medical information
  • Monitoring the security of electronic health record software and hardware
  • Mitigating risk by securing written and electronic data
  • Ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to patient information
  • Retrieving medical records for doctors, nurses, midwives, primary care providers, social workers, therapists, and other healthcare specialists
  • Supervising employees to make sure that security standards are being met

Nursing Home Administrator

Medical and health services managers who work in nursing homes or residential care facilities hold positions as nursing home administrators. They are usually in charge of the business and healthcare aspects of their facilities and should be experts in both fields. Job duties include:

  • Supervising a staff of licensed practical nurses and vocational nurses, registered nurses, maintenance directors, social activity planners, and other professionals
  • Coordinating with food services and providing nutritious meals for residents
  • Communicating with residents and their families about treatment plans, billing options, and other important matters
  • Working with social workers to ensure patients and their families are receiving high-quality care
  • Staying updated on changes regarding healthcare policies, laws, regulations, and protocols concerning residential facilities
  • Managing a facility’s public relations and serving as the spokesperson during meetings, press conferences, or events

Health Information Manager

As technology becomes more advanced, the demand for health information managers is growing. Health information managers work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, rehabilitation facilities, private practices, long-term residential centers, and outpatient clinics. Due to the nature of the work, some have positions in law firms or technology and research organizations.

A few of their most important duties include:

  • Obtaining and storing information about patients through electronic health records
  • Designing and implementing computer programs, software, and systems for storing and protecting data
  • Overseeing patient medical records, information, and healthcare data in their organizations
  • Protecting patient data and medical information from internet hackers, thieves, and other unauthorized personnel
  • Creating budgets for health information systems

How to Become a Medical and Health Services Manager

The different types of roles for medical and health services managers can seem relatively straightforward. However, certain levels of education and years of experience are required for each position.

In order to qualify for many healthcare service management jobs, individuals should consider the following steps:

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Upon graduating high school or finishing an associate degree, undergraduate students should earn a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, business administration, public administration, public health, nursing, or a related field of study.

A typical degree takes students four years to complete. Students in an undergraduate healthcare administration program take courses pertaining to:

  • Healthcare ethics
  • Research
  • Healthcare data analytics
  • Healthcare information systems
  • Financial management
  • Legal issues, policies, regulations, and standards

Step 2: Gain Experience

Undergraduate students can begin applying for internships or entry-level jobs during their final year of college or once they have graduated. They can gain experience working as entry-level administrators in a variety of settings:

  • Community health centers
  • Private practices
  • Hospitals
  • Residential facilities
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Other medical organizations

Gaining experience by assisting with budgets, monitoring schedules, and communicating with medical personnel can help individuals develop the necessary skills to take on a higher-level position.

Prospective medical and health services managers can also gain experience by working in industries other than health care, such as:

  • Business
  • Insurance
  • Finance
  • Public administration

Developing an understanding of financial management, organization, long-term planning, and interpersonal communication can prepare them for the healthcare field.

In some cases, individuals begin their careers as nurses to gain a firm grasp of the clinical aspects of healthcare management. They earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, take the NCLEX-RN exam, and gain experience as registered nurses.

Working as a nurse can benefit potential healthcare managers in many ways, including:

  • Developing an understanding of patient needs as well as medical policies
  • Establishing connections with managers in different hospital networks
  • Becoming familiar with medical terminology

Step 3: Earn a Master’s Degree

In order to take on a role as a medical and health services manager, individuals should continue their education in a master’s program. A graduate degree allows individuals to expand upon their foundation of knowledge as well as enhance their skill sets.

Many graduate students pursue a master’s degree in one of the following disciplines:

  • Health administration
  • Business administration
  • Public administration
  • Health management
  • Nursing

Sometimes individuals earn a graduate degree in the field they are already working in, while others transition to a new field of study. For example, perhaps an individual earns a bachelor’s degree in business and then later earns a master’s degree in health administration.

Typically, this does not work for an advanced nursing degree, as a prerequisite of a Master of Science in Nursing program is a BSN. Additionally, nurses gain experience in a specific field and advance in their careers by becoming specialists or educators. They would not usually begin by earning a bachelor’s in business administration.

The main takeaway is that those who are interested in becoming medical and health services managers have a variety of options when it comes to earning undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Step 4: Obtain Licensure and Certification

Licensure requirements vary by state, so it is important to research the necessary requirements in your area. Individuals also need to obtain the necessary licensure to work in certain facilities, such as nursing homes or assisted-living facilities.

In addition, certain certificates can benefit potential healthcare managers. If a professional has a background in finance, for example, they may pursue a certificate specifically aimed at helping them qualify for a job as a medical and health services manager.

For instance, an individual can enroll in a certification course that focuses on both management and health care with courses in the following areas:

  • Health information systems
  • Medical terminology
  • Health economics
  • Hospital organization, accounting, and budgeting
  • Health services management
  • Human resources administration and strategic planning
  • Healthcare law and ethics

Skills Needed to Become a Health Services Manager

Earning a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and any additional credentials can help an individual become qualified for a job as a medical and health services manager.

Pursuing education and gaining experience can also help people develop and enhance essential skills, such as:

  • Verbal communication: Healthcare services managers are responsible for verbally communicating with doctors, nurses, patients, and patients’ families on a daily basis.
  • Written communication: Managers are usually responsible for the written health records of patients. They must also correspond with board members, investors, community health specialists, social workers, and other hospital managers through emails, reports, and letters.
  • Critical thinking: Each day, a healthcare manager encounters a variety of challenging situations; analytical thinking can help them face obstacles productively and efficiently, with sensitivity and awareness.
  • Attention to detail: Whether a healthcare manager is establishing new protocols, creating a schedule, or managing a budget, they should be able to focus on the minor details and short-term goals.
  • Leadership: In addition to managing the daily operations of a facility, healthcare managers should be able to communicate a long-term plan and vision for their patients, staff members, and organizations.
  • Technology: A medical and health services manager should be able to use necessary equipment and tools, particularly if they are responsible for health information management and electronic health records.
  • Passion: To complement the previously mentioned skills, healthcare services managers should have a real passion for serving patients and giving back to their communities.

What Is a Medical and Health Services Manager’s Salary?

Those who are pursuing a career in health services management will find it to be a rewarding occupation in many ways. Medical and health services managers have the ability to positively impact the lives of countless patients. Additionally, they earn a competitive annual salary.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and health services managers earn a median annual salary of $100,980, as of May 2019. Salaries can vary based on a professional’s education level, years of experience, job location, medical organization, and other factors.

The typical range of salaries for this occupation is $58,820-$189,000. According to the BLS, healthcare services managers working in government organizations and agencies have the highest median annual salary, earning about $111,520.

Those working in local, state, and private hospitals earn about $110,430 on a yearly basis, while those working in outpatient care centers earn about $95,320. Healthcare managers who work in physicians’ offices earn a median annual salary of $91,600, and those who work in nursing homes or residential facilities earn about $86,820.

What Is the Job Outlook for Medical and Health Services Managers?

The job outlook for medical and health services managers is promising. The BLS projects the employment of these professionals to grow by 32 percent between 2019 and 2029, which is eight times the average job growth.

Research by Policy Advice shows that by 2023, “the nation’s spending on health will add up to $4.3 trillion.” On a global level, the U.S. is one of the countries that spend most money on health care.

At this time, approximately 1 in every 8 people work in the medical field. More specifically, approximately 422,300 individuals work as medical and health services managers, as of 2019. Based on the BLS’ projected growth, the field will add 133,200 jobs by 2029.

Earn Your Master of Health Administration Degree

About 17.8 percent of the country’s GDP currently goes to healthcare, based on data from Policy Advice. Since the medical field is one of the largest in the nation, the demand for qualified nurses, physicians, and medical services managers continues to grow every year.

If you are interested in giving back to your community, state, or nation by overseeing a medical facility operations, consider becoming a medical and health services manager. Explore how Tulane University’s Online Master of Health Administration program can help you achieve your professional goals.