Clinics are small to mid-sized healthcare facilities that provide outpatient medical treatment on either a walk-in or by appointment basis. Clinics can provide generalist primary care, but most focus on a specific specialty, such as urgent care, reproductive health, mental health, oncology, or ambulatory surgery. In the United States, free clinics are even available to provide low-cost medical services to patients without health insurance. Keeping clinics running smoothly with high-quality patient care is a job left to clinic managers. As upper-level administrators, clinic managers are responsible for overseeing all employees working in the facility. Clinic managers handle the business side of clinical operations generally staffed by 25 physicians or less.
According to survey data on Salary.com, the median yearly salary for outpatient clinic managers in the United States is currently $87,107. This is equivalent to $42 per hour or $1,675 weekly. With social security, bonuses, pensions, vacation, and insurance included, clinic managers bring home an average total compensation of $122,230.
When just being promoted to clinic manager, health professionals typically land in the lower 10th percentile of earnings with an annual salary around $60,513. However, there’s plenty of room for advancement. Senior clinic managers with years of experience can eventually earn base salaries over $111,608 each year.
Clinic managers hold many responsibilities in overseeing the well-functioning of their medical facility, including its staffing, financing, policymaking, and patient care. Clinic managers work diligently to ensure the needs of the clinic as well as its physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals are met. Typical daily duties include hiring new employees, creating work schedules, overseeing medical billing, drafting budgets, implementing policy changes, organizing tax forms, starting professional development training, ordering medical equipment, leading staff meetings, and negotiating insurance contracts. When patients have complaints, clinic managers may also step in to diplomatically resolve the issue with good customer service.
Running a clinic requires you to wear many hats, so clinic managers must have adaptability and excellent decision-making skills. Clinic managers must be skilled communicators with the people skills to interact daily with doctors, nurses, patients, and families. Leadership skills are important for properly delegating tasks and motivating a cohesive workforce. Having analytical skills is a must for clinic managers to consume and implement the latest government regulations. Clinic managers should be detail-oriented with the organizational skills to keep clinical records and paperwork appropriately filed. Customer service skills are also essential for clinic managers to quickly appease patient problems and create a family-like atmosphere.
Degree and Education Requirements
Becoming a clinic manager generally requires professionals to possess at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university. Majoring in health administration, public health, business administration, or management makes the most sense. Fill up your undergraduate schedule with classes in clinical informatics, health services management, medical terminology, health law, economics, budgeting, and medical billing. Heading back to graduate school for a two-year master’s degree can aid in your promotion. Many clinic managers earn a Master of Health Administration (MHA), Master of Public Health (MPH), or MBA with a healthcare concentration. Some universities offer combined bachelor’s and master’s programs in health administration to save money.
Pros and Cons of the Position
Like other health administration jobs, being a clinic manager will provide a balance of rewards and challenges. Of course, clinic managers are rewarded for their leadership with a high yearly salary near the six-figure mark and excellent benefits. Clinic managers have a multi-faceted job involved with everything from marketing and IT to facility management. Clinic managers are often at the top of the ladder, thus allowing them to leave a lasting imprint on the practice. Working in a clinic can be less stressful since there’s not as many staff or departments as hospitals. However, clinic managers work long days beyond the 9-to-5 to oversee operations during the majority of open hours. Some people can be overwhelmed by the job’s vast duties and responsibilities. Tight budget constraints may make affording new equipment or hiring more staff challenging. Clinic managers also must invest significantly in their education and training.
Gaining real-world experience should begin while earning your bachelor’s degree. Start applying for internships, clinical practica, administrative residencies, and even part-time jobs in clinics. Most employers require clinic managers to have at least five years of work experience in the healthcare industry prior to hiring. It’s likely you’ll begin working as a medical records technician, office manager, administrative assistant, medical biller, or financial clerk. You may also jump into administration after working as a registered nurse, but that requires at least an ADN and licensing. The long trek up the administrative ladder can be oiled by attending graduate school. Most accredited master’s programs will include fieldwork, so pick a clinic as your setting. After graduation, consider pursuing professional certification. For example, PAHCOM offers the Certified Medical Manager (CMM) credential. Through the AAPC, you could also become a Certified Physician Practice Manager (CPPM). Both require passing a 200-question exam.
Clinics are expected to become larger and more complex as patients are increasingly searching for medical alternatives to hospital stays. Add in a large, aging baby boomer population and there’s a recipe for tremendous job growth. Older adults traditionally require more medical procedures offered by outpatient clinics. Transitioning over to electronic health records has also increased the need for clinic managers to oversee healthcare IT systems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects overall job growth for health administrators by 17 percent from 2014 to 2024, which should unlock 56,300 new jobs. Clinic managers with a master’s degree and several years of administrative experience should fare well. Job prospects are good in free clinics, retail-based clinics, general primary care clinics, and specialty clinics.
Clinic managers are highly trained administrators who perform a variety of business-related tasks to guarantee their healthcare center runs efficiently and safely. Becoming a clinic manager is an excellent choice for patient, assertive, outgoing, and ambitious individuals interested in an in-demand career away from the bedside. Although clinic managers spend more time in the office or boardroom, their work impacts the lives of thousands of outpatients each year. Clinic managers can also advance into roles like Vice President or CEO in larger healthcare facilities.