Healthcare’s behind-the-scenes operations play a critical role in patient outcomes. Forward-facing healthcare workers—clinicians and other healthcare practitioners with direct patient contact—may be more visible. That does not mean they are more impactful.
Healthcare-focused MBA programs or MBA in Healthcare Management programs prepare administrative and managerial leaders to work in a cross-functional field that requires collaboration with nurses, physicians, medical technicians, insurance agents, and other healthcare professionals.
Health services managers (or hospital managers) ensure quality patient care and safety by mandating their organization’s policies, systems, and procedures. Their duties include developing departmental goals, ensuring their facility complies with laws and regulations, recruiting and training staff, handling budgets, creating work schedules, and handling other operational tasks.
An MBA in Healthcare Management can help you land roles that manage financial, human resource, Positions like clinical director, healthcare operations manager, chief operating officer, and hospital CEO all fall under healthcare management. All can influence decisions that impact patient care and outcomes.
So, what is an MBA in Healthcare Management? This article will answer that question and the following:
An MBA in Healthcare Management—not to confuse with a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA), although there are some similarities—combines the business operations, strategic, managerial, and financial aspects of the healthcare field.
An MBA in Healthcare Management prepares professionals for many of the same functions as an MHA. However, the skills learned in a healthcare management program are transferable to other non-healthcare-related fields, unlike healthcare administration programs (which primarily prepare you for a long-term career within healthcare settings). That’s because an MBA in Healthcare Management program covers business coursework in accounting, finance, leadership, and other operational skills applicable to healthcare and non-healthcare settings.
Healthcare management programs range between 30 and 60 required credits and typically take two years of full-time study or three or more years of part-time study. However, some schools offer accelerated programs in which students can earn their MBA in Healthcare Management in one year.
Many programs also require students to complete an independent study and at least one year of supervised health administrative experience or residency in a hospital or other healthcare setting to gain practical skills.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers predicted an average starting salary for 2019 MBA graduates of $84,580—provided those graduates found jobs in computer science, engineering, science, or business. (
Students considering an MBA or graduate business degree can choose from varied career paths, including those focused on financial management, data analytics, market research, healthcare management, and operations management. The analytical skills and problem-solving techniques gained from graduate level business degrees are in high demand across business sectors. ( )
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Unlike some MBA dual degree programs, prospective students do not have to apply to separate schools (i.e., a School of Business and a School of Healthcare Administration) to earn their MBA in Healthcare Management. Instead, MBA healthcare management programs blend core MBA courses with healthcare courses to prepare students for this multidisciplinary career.
MBA in Healthcare Management program curricula, such as the one offered at Case Western Reserve University, typically cover the following MBA topics:
Healthcare coursework covers:
Some healthcare management roles, like nursing home administrators, may require a national licensing exam and a state-specific exam in addition to an advanced degree.
An MBA in Healthcare Management increases marketability and employment options in areas where both disciplines intersect. Graduates can explore healthcare management roles such as:
An MBA in Healthcare Management can help graduates work their way up to c-suite roles like chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief operations officer (COO), chief marketing officer (CMO), vice president, or president in healthcare or other health-related businesses.
Health service administrators make an average annual salary of $83,236, with the typical salary range falling between $74,018 at the 25th percentile and $92,625 at the 75th percentile. As with most careers, potential earnings differ based on location, years of experience, education, and industry.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies this discipline as medical and health services management. The category reports a potential median annual income is $101,340, with the highest percentile earning more than $205,620 and the lowest earning less than $60,780. Top-paying industries include:
Most candidates for an MBA in Healthcare Management come from undergraduate programs in health administration, nursing, or other healthcare-related fields. Many healthcare-focused MBA programs strongly recommend that incoming students have prior coursework in accounting, economics, statistics, and computer literacy for entry. Some manage without this background, but that path typically requires additional catchup work.
The healthcare management field can also include individuals with health informatics, nursing administration, social services, public health, or public and business administration degrees who later transition to senior healthcare management careers.
This was once a hotly debated topic. The rapid onset of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped seettle the argument. According to Poets and Quants, 34 percent of job recruiters agree or strongly agree that they value graduates of online and in-person programs equally.
Online master’s programs provide convenience and flexibility, especially for busy professionals with full-time jobs who may seek this degree to advance their careers, learn new skills, or negotiate higher salaries. For whatever reason, most online MBA in Healthcare Management programs provide a range of options. Case Western Reserve University offers a blend of asynchronous (self-paced learning) and synchronous (live, virtual classes) classroom instruction paired with experiential learning through in-person residencies.
Other schools that offer an online MBA in Healthcare Management degree program or business schools that provide focused courses in healthcare include:
On the other hand, if you’re interested in a long-term career in healthcare, some schools that offer online MHA programs include:
The University of Tennessee Knoxville offers an Executive MBA – Healthcare Leadership (EMBA-HL) from the Haslam College of Business for individuals on the fast track to executive leadership roles. This competitive program, limited to just 30 students per academic year, provides a combination of online courses with in-person residencies and takes as little as one year to complete.
The BLS projects job growth for medical and health services managers at 28 percent through 2031, much faster than the average occupation, resulting in roughly 56,600 new openings annually. This is unquestionably a robust career field.
Some healthcare management roles in high demand include positions that serve the aging U.S. population. Others require tech-savvy professionals to keep up with new technologies such as telehealth, artificial intelligence (AI), and electronic medical records (EMRs). Unfortunately, harder-to-fill roles like healthcare administrators, healthcare market research analysts, healthcare communications, healthcare CEOs, and other managerial positions often remain vacant because of a lack of qualified candidates.
An MBA in Healthcare Management is perfect for the nurse or healthcare practitioner who wants to advance their career into leadership roles. They already have clinical knowledge; learning the operational side of the industry can give them an advantage when pursuing those positions. Furthermore, understanding the business side of healthcare doesn’t just open the door for roles within the profession. The business-savvy obtained from your master’s degree program can transition to non-healthcare-related industries.
Overall, an MBA in Healthcare Management is a win-win for practitioners or healthcare managers seeking positions with higher responsibilities and the salaries to match.
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