For individuals currently working in healthcare who are interested in expanding their career possibilities, it may be beneficial to explore the business side of this growing industry. A career in healthcare management, for example, can allow professionals to utilize the knowledge they have attained and work toward improving the quality of patient care.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the percentage of U.S. workers employed in healthcare has been growing for more than six decades – from about 3% in the 1950s to more than 11% in recent years. An aging population, along with a greater focus on preventative care, is translating into greater demand for healthcare services. As a result, many types of healthcare facilities should see a rising need for managers and administrators. As medical technology continues to advance, more procedures and services are likely to be offered through health practitioners' offices, where strong management skills will also be in demand.
These opportunities are highlighted by the BLS, which reported in 2012 that national employment of medical and health services managers, a category of professionals that includes healthcare administrators and managers, is projected to increase by 22% through 2020. That growth rate is much higher than average (14%) for all occupations.
The median annual wage of medical and health services managers was almost $88,600 in May 2012, with the top 10% earning a median in excess of $150,000, the BLS noted.
Job opportunities, like salary potential, will vary according to economic conditions, geographic location and other factors, including an applicant's educational qualifications and work history. Therefore, it's important to conduct independent research into the employment market.
From the equipment and technology used daily to the specialization in services and the delivery of care to patients, healthcare has transformed in many ways.
Keeping up with these sweeping changes requires trained and talented management teams with a variety of skills. Today's healthcare leaders are relied upon to be innovative thinkers, creative problem solvers and effective agents of change. Continuous challenges make for an exciting and interesting career, where each day is different from the last and the next.
Still, despite the multitude of changes and advances in healthcare, its core mission of improving the quality of patient care remains steady.
Increasingly, launching a career in healthcare leadership or management requires a master's degree in a field such as health administration or management. These programs typically provide a higher level of health care-specific business knowledge that can be applied to real-world situations in hospitals, medical practices, surgery centers and other facilities.
What core attributes and knowledge do health care employers generally seek in managers?
In-demand skills can be attained through specialized degree programs, such as a Master of Science (MS) in Healthcare Administration, which are designed to provide students with a deep understanding of the fundamentals of health management.
According to the BLS, there were about 293,500 medical and health services managers employed in the United States as of May 2012, with the largest concentration working in hospitals. Others find opportunities in organizations such as public health departments, long-term care facilities, clinics, health insurance firms and consulting firms.
With advanced educational qualifications, training and experience, health care professionals may be able to seek mid- to upper-level management positions, including:
A career in healthcare management can bring an array of rewarding challenges, as well as the opportunity to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others every day.