What is a Health Care Manager?

Liz Fernandez
Liz Fernandez

A health care manager typically plans, directs, coordinates, and supervises the delivery of health care either in the specialized setting of a clinical department or system-wide for an entire facility. Professionals in this field typically remain abreast of technological innovations and changing regulations. Their responsibilities include improving the efficiency and quality of the health care provided to patients.

Physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals usually work closely with a health care manager to develop the best care for patients. They are tasked with ensuring that the organization has the proper medical, operational, and financial resources in place in order to serve the needs of the community. These health care executives are also responsible for educating the community about important health issues and providing emergency care during times of crisis.

Numerous settings offer health care manager positions. These include hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, public health departments, and rehabilitation centers. In large facilities, several health care managers might work in unison to aid a top administrator that handles major decisions. Smaller settings often have a top administrator that handles more hands-on tasks.

Some entry-level health care manager positions may only require a bachelor’s degree. Many undergraduate schools offer programs with concentrations in health services. For senior-level health care manager positions, a master’s degree usually is required. Some graduate programs offer joint degrees in business or law and public health. These programs are meant to prepare professionals for the health care setting while exposing them to high-level legal and financial topics.

Professionals entering the field typically need strong written and oral communication skills in order to present reports and proposals. They must be able to work well with others and take leadership roles that inspire and motivate colleagues and employees. Health care managers must also be comfortable training others, delegating duties, and negotiating contracts. Entry-level and mid-level health care managers usually specialize in areas such as finance, human resources, marketing, public affairs, staff relations, nursing administration, and patient care services.

The work environment for health care managers depends on the institution. Some work in private offices while others share space with colleagues. The job typically requires long hours. Facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes usually require health care managers to be on-call. Travel to meetings and conferences may also be required.

Advancement in the health care management field can be achieved by moving to higher paying positions, such as department head or chief executive officer. Moving to larger facilities also provides advancement opportunities. Health care managers may find lucrative opportunities as consultants or professors as well.

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