Gone are the days when doctors could open private practices and manage day-to-day operations themselves. Medical billing, medical records management, and medical facilities management have become increasingly complicated, thanks to changing rules and regulations. Today, medical practice management is a full-time job for professionals who handle the practical concerns of running a clinic so doctors can focus on healing patients.
These professionals go by many titles. Some are called medical practice managers. Others are designated as health services managers or physician-practice operations managers. No matter what they're called, they handle a big job, and they're often paid quite well—though how well varies depending on who is doing the reporting.
In this article about the average medical practice manager salary, we cover:
Medical practice managers are professionals who make sure that healthcare businesses run smoothly. They work at:
The day-to-day responsibilities of medical practice managers differ depending on where they work and whether they oversee an entire practice, multiple facilities, or one department. In general, they oversee—or take an active role in—business and nonmedical operations. Medical practice managers may handle any or all of the following:
In short, they are responsible for handling the business side of medicine.
Medical practice managers handle everything and everything related to operations, staff needs, and patient satisfaction. They work closely with doctors, registered nurses, medical assistants, lab techs, administrators, office managers, case managers, and other health services employees, because the work they do affects every part of the practice. On a given day, a medical practice manager might:
Don't assume that handling more responsibilities is the best way to earn a higher medical practice manager salary. Managers who work for larger practices or medical networks may specialize in one area of management (e.g., billing or HR) and get paid more, while a manager at a small practice might do just about everything but earn less.
More medical practice managers have bachelor's degrees (35 percent) than master's degrees (21 percent) as their highest level of education. While some people working in this role are hired with associate's degrees (16 percent) or even high school degrees (21 percent), a four-year undergraduate degree is really the entry-level education required to become a medical practice manager.
There are no medical practice management degrees, but there are several degree programs that will prepare you to work in this role, including those listed below:
When choosing a medical management bachelor's degree program, look for opportunities to study:
Completing one or more internships at healthcare facilities during your undergrad years will almost always make you a more attractive job candidate and may also boost your starting salary.
A master's degree isn't a necessity in this field, but having one will probably increase your lifetime earning potential and help you advance more quickly. Once again, there are many degree options to choose from. A master's degree in business can help you transition into this career, and you can't go wrong with an MBA in Healthcare Management. Boston University offers a Health Services MBA that will prepare you to work in both medical practices and other healthcare sectors.
Other options include the Master of Healthcare Administration and the MBA in Healthcare Administration. If you really love practice management, however, a few colleges and universities offer super-specific master's degrees. Vanderbilt University, for instance, offers a Master of Management in Health Care (MMHC) degree, while both the University of Michigan and the University of Kansas have Master of Health Services Administration (MHSA) programs.
The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) oversees the quality of healthcare management master's degrees. Their list of accredited programs is relatively short. Still, it's worth reviewing because CAHME offers several scholarships available only to students in accredited programs, as well as access to industry materials and no-cost memberships for professional groups.
The answer depends on where you look. According to US News and World Report, the average medical practice manager salary is just about $100,000. PayScale, however, reports that these administrative professionals earn closer to $60,000. Glassdoor reports that medical and health services managers earn just about $38,000.
Clearly these different sources define the role very differently. The takeaway is that you shouldn't rely on these sources when you're trying to figure out what a medical practice manager salary looks like in your area. Instead, read through actual local job listings and see what employers are actually paying.
Given the above, take this section with a grain of salt. What we know definitively about salary trends across industries is that professionals with master's degrees tend to earn more than those with bachelor's degrees, but how much more can vary considerably by field. Salary.com is one of the few sources that reports on how degrees affect salary, and according to the site:
Clearly, you may not earn more in this role with an advanced degree. That said, you may be able to transition to an administrative or executive position in health services management that pays a lot more once you have a master's degree.
Medical practice managers in different settings may have the same job description but do very different things.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't track median annual wages for medical practice managers specifically, but it does track pay for medical and health services managers. Healthcare administration professionals in government workplaces ($110,460) and in hospitals ($108,730) tend to earn the most. You'll find the next-highest medical practice manager salaries in outpatient care centers ($92,390) and doctors' offices ($90,920).
There are a number of certifications for professionals in healthcare management, and these can definitely boost a medical practice manager salary. According to the APPC's 2018 Salary Survey, most professionals working in the business side of healthcare earn just over $50,000 while Certified Physician Practice Managers (CPPMs) earn nearly $70,000. Certified Medical Practice Executives (CMPEs) and Fellows (FACMPEs) typically make about $6,000 more than their uncertified colleagues.
There are other certifications for medical practice managers that may increase salaries. They include:
Where you work can have a pretty big impact on salary when you're a medical practice manager. In New York, you could earn $75,000 or more. Medical practice manager salaries in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, and Hawaii are also relatively high. Your salary will likely be a lot smaller in North Carolina, Florida, Missouri, and Mississippi. The number on your paycheck isn't all you need to think about, though. A lower-paying position in Alabama might have amazing benefits. In addition, the cost of living might be so low that a smaller salary goes a lot further there than a much larger salary in a more expensive state.
Some do, and some don't. The reason it's impossible to give a hard answer to this question is that practice managers who work on a contract basis can set their own rates, so the income range is a lot bigger. According to Glassdoor, the average medical practice management consultant earns about $100,000 a year, but a medical practice administrator working on a contract basis might charge as little as $75 per hour or more than $400 per hour (depending on what the market will support and factors like work experience and expertise). Your total compensation when you become a medical practice management consultant may also fluctuate from year to year, making it even harder to determine whether you'll earn more as a consultant than in an in-house position.
If you really like the idea of setting out on your own as a consultant, the best thing you can do to maximize your average annual salary is to specialize. Independent medical practice administrators with experience tackling tough operations, medical billing, finance, human resources, or growth issues may be able to charge more.
There are plenty of ways to boost a medical practice manager salary. Make sure you achieve the highest level of education you possibly can, whether that's a bachelor's degree in health services management or a master's degree in healthcare administration. Pursuing health services management certifications and continuing education even when they're not required by your employer can also help you earn more than the median salary.
Remember, too, that the average annual medical practice manager salary differs by state and by work setting, so chances are you'll earn more money in this role if you can be flexible when applying for jobs. And finally, just keep working hard. As is the case in most fields, managers and administrators in medical and health services tend to earn more money as they gain experience. Sometimes time is the best salary booster of all.
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