If you’re confused about healthcare management degree programs, it is very understandable. That title can encompass a variety of courses, not all of which cover the same level of information. These programs can range from two-year associate degrees right up to doctorates, so it’s important to learn which type of program is the one for you.
Associate degree programs
If you are looking to get in on the ground floor of healthcare management, this is a good place to start. A two-year degree can be obtained either online or in a typical classroom setting. The best thing about programs like these is that students are able to continue to work at their current jobs while earning credits toward their associate degree in healthcare management.
The focus will be on the fundamentals, learning organizational, financial and leadership skills that will translate to real-world experience in a healthcare business setting. It’s a perfect way to start a career for those seeking additional post-secondary education. An associate’s degree can be the first in a series that students can earn as they advance their way up the corporate healthcare management ladder.
Bachelor of science degree programs
These are typically four-year degrees, although those with an associate degree can continue on this career path to the next level. Coursework will cover more in-depth studies of the principles of healthcare administration. Students learn how to develop the business management skills they will need to oversee the administration of a healthcare facility.
Those interested in assuming a leadership position in a healthcare environment could find themselves at the helm of physician’s offices, long-term care facilities, nursing homes and even large hospitals. Often, completing healthcare management degree programs can precede a promotion to a position of increased responsibility and higher salary.
Getting a master’s or doctorate degree in healthcare management is sometimes done by those already working in the field as registered nurses, or even physicians who want to have a better idea of how to manage their practices successfully. These working professionals may be attracted to the flexibility offered by online and evening courses, which allows them to continue working shifts and/or seeing patients.
Sometimes healthcare practitioners already have the knowledge and degrees to advance to the next career level, but may lack the specific licensure requirements they need. Distance learning that allows them to complete coursework and apply their skills outside of a classroom setting can be an ideal way to polish an already lucrative career.
Getting on the right career track
It can seem daunting starting out with just a high school diploma and imagining all the steps you will have to take to complete healthcare management degree programs. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it all doesn’t have to be undertaken at once. In fact, many find that continuing their education while simultaneously working their way up the corporate ladder is the best approach.
If you are just starting out in the field, you may want to look into programs that combine both management and healthcare courses in their curricula. Learning subjects like medical terminology, principles of hospital organization and the ins and outs of health information systems can produce a well-rounded individual that is ready to tackle the challenges of a career in healthcare management.
Assistant administrator positions
It would be a rare occurrence for someone with an associate degree to step into a position of administrator of a large healthcare facility. Rather, those positions are usually held by those who have years of experience in the healthcare field as well as advanced degrees. A far more common scenario is being hired as an assistant administrator after obtaining an associate degree. Courses might include some or all of the following:
- Medical Insurance
- Health Services Management
- Quality Assurance
- Medical Law and Ethics
- Accounting and Budgeting
- Medical Terminology
- Medical Billing and Coding
Most two-year associate degree programs will prepare students to enter the workforce as entry-level healthcare manager assistants at facilities of various sizes.
Taking it a step further
Whether you are already working as a healthcare professional or just deciding that you want to make some positive career advances, there are many healthcare management degree programs that will fit your circumstances. You can make some telephone inquiries or search online for the right program to kick your career in healthcare management into high gear.