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Healthcare Management vs. Healthcare Administration: Which Career is Right for You

Are you considering a career in the healthcare industry but need help determining which path is right for you? Healthcare management and healthcare administration are two popular career options. These career titles can be used interchangeably and typically have the exact requirements. Still, if we're getting down to the nitty-gritty, they have some essential differences you should consider before making a decision.

Degrees and Certs for healthcare administrators and managers

One difference between these two careers is the level of education and certification. Higher-level healthcare management jobs often require a Master's degree in healthcare management or a related field, and professional certifications such as the Certified Healthcare Manager (CHM) credential offered by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) may be available.

On the other hand, depending on the position level, healthcare administrator positions may require a Bachelor's or Master's degree in healthcare administration or a related field, and some states may require licensure for certain types of jobs.

Professional certifications such as the Certified Medical Manager (CMM) credential offered by the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM) may also be available.

Some additional professional certifications that healthcare administrators and managers might consider:

  • Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ)

  • Certified Medical Practice Executive (CMPE)

  • Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA)

  • Certified Professional in Patient Safety (CPPS)

  • Certified Healthcare Safety Professional (CHSP)

  • Certified Healthcare Facility Manager (CHFM)

  • Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management (CPHRM)

Job scopes for healthcare administrators and managers

Another essential difference to consider is the scope of the job. Healthcare management jobs may be called healthcare executives, administrators, or managers, and they may have broader responsibilities for the operations of a group of facilities.

Here is a list of job titles that healthcare managers might hold:

  • Healthcare Executive

  • Healthcare Manager

  • Medical Director

  • Director of Nursing

  • Clinical Manager

  • Patient Services Manager

  • Director of Operations

  • Director of Quality Improvement

  • Chief Medical Officer

  • Chief Nursing Officer

  • Chief Operating Officer

  • Chief Financial Officer

  • Chief Executive Officer

This list is incomplete, and the specific job title may depend on the size and type of organization and the particular responsibilities of the role. Some healthcare managers may hold more specialized titles, such as Director of Pediatrics or Director of Rehabilitation Services.

On the other hand, healthcare administrators may be called medical office managers, healthcare coordinators, or healthcare supervisors. They may have more specialized responsibilities, such as managing a healthcare organization's finances or human resources.

Here are some additional titles that could be used for a healthcare administrator position:

  • Health Services Director

  • Clinical Manager

  • Medical Practice Manager

  • Patient Care Manager

  • Health Systems Administrator

  • Healthcare Operations Supervisor

  • Medical Office Director

  • Healthcare Practice Manager

  • Health Services Supervisor

  • Clinical Services Manager

  • Healthcare Operations Manager

  • Medical Office Manager

  • Clinical Coordinator

  • Patient Services Supervisor

  • Health Services Administrator

  • Healthcare Administrator

Public sector jobs for healthcare administrators and managers

Both healthcare management and healthcare administrator jobs may be found in government-run facilities such as hospitals or clinics operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the Indian Health Service (IHS).

Here are some other government entities where healthcare administrators and managers might work:

  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

  • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

Healthcare administrators and managers may work in various roles within these organizations, such as overseeing the operations of a specific facility, developing and implementing policies and procedures, managing budgets, and ensuring compliance with regulations. They may also work in administrative roles within state and local government agencies, such as public health departments.

Private sector positions for healthcare administrators and managers

They may also be found in private sector facilities, such as hospitals or clinics owned by a healthcare organization or a for-profit company.

The level of competition for these two types of jobs may also differ. Competition for healthcare management jobs may be intense, as the number of qualified candidates may exceed the number of available positions.

On the other hand, competition for healthcare administrator jobs may be more moderate, as the number of qualified candidates may be roughly equal to the number of available positions.

Here are some subfields where healthcare managers and administrators might work:

  • Hospitals

  • Clinics

  • Nursing homes

  • Assisted living facilities

  • Outpatient care centers

  • Rehabilitation centers

  • Mental health facilities

  • Private medical practices

  • Insurance companies

Healthcare managers and administrators may also work in specialty areas such as pediatrics, gerontology, oncology, or orthopedics. They may also work in administrative roles for healthcare professional organizations, consulting firms, or healthcare technology companies.

Work-life balance for healthcare administrators and managers

Regarding work-life balance, healthcare management jobs may require more extended hours and may involve some evening or weekend work. The amount of work-life balance may vary depending on the specific position and the organization's needs.

Healthcare administrator jobs may also require evening or weekend work, but the overall workload may be less demanding.

Required skills for healthcare administrators and managers

Finally, healthcare management and healthcare administrator jobs require strong leadership, communication, and organizational skills.

However, healthcare management jobs may also require strong decision-making skills and knowledge of healthcare regulations and financing. In contrast, healthcare administrator jobs may require knowledge of healthcare regulations, financing, and human resources management.

In conclusion, healthcare management and healthcare administrator jobs offer rewarding careers in the healthcare industry, but you should consider some essential differences before making a decision. Be sure to carefully weigh the education and certification requirements, the job scope, the level of competition, the work-life balance, and the necessary skills for each career to determine the best fit for you.

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