How Do I Become a Health Care Manager?

Erik J.J. Goserud
Erik J.J. Goserud

In order to become a health care manager, a person must acquire the appropriate education, experience, and skill sets specific to the type of management he or she would like to be employed in. This typically consists of a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and graduate school. Sometimes, graduate work may be omitted if significant experience is obtained, but otherwise, a master's or doctorate is likely required in order to become a health care manager.

Health care managers may be employed in a variety of settings. These settings likely include nursing facilities, hospitals, and health care clinics, but they're also found in private doctor's offices, specialty clinics, and health care companies. Different training may be necessary to become a health care manager in different settings. For example, a manager in nursing facility will likely need clinical experience, whereas a manager for a health care insurance agency may not have experience dealing with patients.

Managerial backgrounds are typical for someone who wants to become a health care manager. This experience or education may of course be acquired through the necessary course work as well. There are a variety of degree programs designed to prepare a student for a career in health care management. These degrees most typically include MBA, MPH, and DPH programs.

An MBA is a master's in business administration. Many students acquire this degree for careers in business and management. A number of specialty programs associated with MBAs exist as well, including an emphasis in health care management. An MBA takes between one to three years to complete on average. MPH is the abbreviation for a master's in public health, and DPH stands for a doctorate of public health.

An MPH is typically a two- to three-year program that offers specialties in environmental health, maternal and child health, and general public health; others may choose to pursue a focus in public health and administration policy, bio statistics, health education, or even behavioral science. Most of these specialties cover all of subjects in the spectrum of public health but focus more on the specific specialty chosen by the student. The DPH is similar to the MPH in terms of subject areas covered but tends to have a more extensive curriculum and is often accompanied by a heavy emphasis in independent research.

Many times, a student may choose to accompany his or her managerial or public health degree with a clinical degree. This is why many dual-degree programs exist. In order to get into one of these programs, a student should strive to obtain a relevant bachelor's degree, take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), and acquire as much relevant experience as possible. Public service and volunteer work are also very desirable for someone hoping to go to school to become a health care manager.

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