When pursuing a Master's degree in healthcare, candidates will have the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of healthcare. For example, a candidate might focus on healthcare informatics, research, facility management or a number of other areas. It is perhaps this variety of career paths that has contributed to a certain amount of confusion regarding exactly what options are open to those who choose to earn such a degree. The following list of five possible careers for those holding a Master's degree in healthcare might prove helpful.
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Director of Healthcare Facilities
Directors, also known as administrators, manage entire facilities or departments. Although hospitals employ almost 40 percent of the nation's healthcare administrators, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, their services are also needed by nursing homes, hospices, mental health institutions and substance abuse facilities. Duties vary by facility, but they normally include budgeting, streamlining the patient flow, improving operating efficiency, overseeing a hiring plan, ensuring patient confidentiality and resolving personnel issues. Some administrators may be involved in fundraising efforts and/or public relations. At smaller facilities, the director may also be in charge of workplace safety, but many larger facilities employ a director specifically for safety training and compliance.
Health Services Business Manager
Physicians, dentists, chiropractors and medical laboratories often employ those with master's degrees in healthcare to manage the business aspect of their practices. Some employers may be in private practice, but healthcare business managers are more likely to be employed in a group practice or clinic setting. Responsibilities typically include overseeing patient billing and collections, ensuring regulatory compliance, supervising patient records, overseeing accounts payable and preparing budgets. In a small practice, the business manager may also be in charge of scheduling, hiring and employee benefits. Larger practices may employ assistant administrators; if so, the administrator is usually their direct supervisor.
Healthcare Special Projects Manager
Special projects managers focus their attention on research projects that are intended to enhance the delivery of services. These positions normally involve finding ways to improve processes and procedures in order to make operations more efficient or to reach more patients with a wider range of services. Government agencies, large hospitals and facilities affiliated with universities may employ special projects managers on either a permanent or a temporary basis. The job usually requires the ability to study existing methods and systems based on the capture and analysis of data, so good analytical skills and the ability to think logically are required. However, the ability to find creative solutions can also be an asset.
Public Healthcare Manager
Public health departments can be found at the city, county, state and federal levels. Depending on the agency, healthcare managers may be program administrators who are responsible for preparing and monitoring budgets, attaining benchmarks, recruiting and overseeing the information technology department. In some circumstances, the healthcare manager may serve as the agency's "public face" by holding press conferences or giving interviews to the media. The manager may also be actively involved in the creation and implementation of policies designed to protect public health. In certain positions, the manager may work with or appear before governing bodies, such as a city council or state legislature.
Healthcare Administrators in Private Business
Many companies that manufacture or market healthcare products employ healthcare administrators. Job titles include director of market research, marketing manager, analyst, sales director, instructor, director of strategic planning, quality improvement manager and research manager. Employers include pharmaceutical corporations, healthcare management companies, insurance providers, biotechnology companies and consulting firms. Responsibilities vary widely, depending on the nature of the business. For example, at an insurance company, the primary responsibilities often involve controlling costs, ensuring regulatory compliance and long-term planning, while at a pharmaceutical company the main duties may be more focused on marketing or public relations.
Earning a Master's degree in healthcare is the first step along a career path that can provide job security and stability. There are many branches along the path that allow each student to select the specific area on which he or she prefers to focus. Whether the preference is to concentrate on healthcare technology, marketing or clinical management, the degree can offer something for virtually anyone. The most difficult aspect may be in deciding precisely which of the many paths to choose.