Have you ever wondered how a healthcare facility as big as a multi-specialty hospital is managed so beautifully? From hiring and training the medical staff, to tasks like accounting, budgeting and authorizing expenditures – a lot goes into ensuring that doctors and the medical staff can concentrate on patient care, while daily operations run smoothly in the background. Guess who makes all this possible? Healthcare management professionals. 

The primary responsibility of a healthcare management professional is to ensure the day-to-today operations in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities are executed without challenges. If you’re someone who is interested in the business and management side of healthcare, then a degree like Master of Business Administration (MBA) in healthcare management may be the right choice for you.  

A recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the projected employment rate for health service managers from 2022 – 2032, is at a steep rise of 28%. This shows that there is a pressing need for skilled professionals who can put their business acumen to good use in the healthcare industry.

In this guide, we’ll learn who should pursue an MBA in healthcare management and if you’re one of them, how can you gain advanced level knowledge about the business and management skills required to thrive in healthcare.

what is healthcare management

An MBA in healthcare management is a specialized graduate program that combines business and management principles with a focus on the healthcare industry. 

The curriculum of the program typically covers areas such as healthcare economics, policy, finance, and leadership. As a student of this program , you will learn how to apply business strategies to healthcare settings, addressing challenges like cost management, regulatory compliance, and patient care improvement. You will be prepared for leadership roles in hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical companies, and other healthcare-related entities.

Earning a degree in healthcare management requires you to have keen interest in the industry, a certain skill set and business acumen to become a successful healthcare professional. Let’s look at the kinds of individuals who could pursue this degree: 

  1. Healthcare Professionals Seeking Leadership Roles: If you’re someone who is already working in healthcare, such as doctors, nurses, or administrators, and are looking to advance into leadership positions within hospitals, clinics, or healthcare organizations, you could pursue this degree.
  1. Business Professionals Transitioning to Healthcare: Individuals with a business background like finance, marketing, or management, who wish to pivot their careers toward the healthcare sector, by leveraging their business skills can enroll for this program.
  1. Entrepreneurs in the Healthcare Space: Aspiring entrepreneurs interested in establishing their healthcare ventures can give this a shot. Right from medical practices to healthcare technology startups, entrepreneurs could benefit from the strategic and managerial insights gained through an MBA in healthcare management.
  1. Pharmaceutical and Biotech Professionals: People who are working in pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries and want comprehensive understanding of healthcare systems and administration can pursue this degree. This can enhance their effectiveness in product development, regulatory compliance and access to the healthcare market.
  1. Government and Nonprofit Sector Professionals: Those in public health, government health agencies, or nonprofit organizations can also consider this graduate program. An MBA in this field can strengthen their managerial and strategic capabilities in addressing public health challenges and improving healthcare delivery.

Earning an MBA degree in healthcare management helps you learn the skills you need to succeed in the management side of the healthcare industry. This degree is a great medium to gain an edge over your competition, making you a desirable candidate for potential employers. Let’s take a quick look at the steps involved in earning this degree.

Research Programs and Specializations:

Start by investing your time in research and explore MBA programs with healthcare management specializations from reputable institutions. You could consider the following factors:

  • Program reputation
  • Faculty expertise
  • Curriculum structure 
  • Internship or practical experience opportunities 
  • Alumni success. 

Apart from these, look for specific features that align with your career goals, such as industry partnerships, networking opportunities, or global exposure.

Assess Admission Requirements:

Once you have selected the colleges you wish to apply for, start by reviewing the admission criteria of their healthcare management programs. Take note of the minimum GPA, any required standardized test scores, and the preferred level of work experience. Some programs may have specific prerequisites, or may consider a certain mix of academic and professional backgrounds. So, make sure you consider this as well.

Prepare Application Materials:

Next, you need to carefully prepare application materials to showcase your qualifications. Start by craft a personal statement that highlights your passion for healthcare management. In this statement, it’s a good idea to emphasize your unique experiences and contributions. To make your application stronger, you could request letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to your abilities and potential.

Financial Planning:

An important step in planning your higher education involves making sure you have the appropriate funds to complete your degree. When considering MBA programs in the healthcare sector, consider factors like tuition costs, living expenses, and potential lost income during your studies, if you’re returning to college as a working adult. Don’t forget to explore scholarship opportunities, grants, and other financial aid options. Also, check to see if your employer offers tuition reimbursement or sponsorship for professional development.

Submit Applications:

It’s time to take action. Once you’re convinced that your application is well-organized and error-free, go ahead and submit it. Remember to pay attention to specific requirements for each program, including any supplemental materials or essays. It’s important to tailor your applications to highlight your alignment with the program’s values and objectives.

Prepare for Interviews:

If interviews are part of your admission process, practicing responses to common questions might be a good idea. In most interviews, you could be quizzed about your academic journey, professional experiences, and the reason for your interest in healthcare management. When giving the interview, remember to showcase your interpersonal skills and passion for contributing to the healthcare sector.

Attending Information Sessions:

One good way to ensure you’re on the right track is to attend information sessions or virtual events hosted by the programs. This gives you a wonderful opportunity to engage with current students, alumni, and faculty through social media or networking platforms. Use these sessions to ask questions about the program’s strengths, potential challenges, and unique opportunities for students.

Enroll and Complete Pre-Enrollment Tasks:

Once accepted, carefully review any pre-enrollment tasks outlined by the program. You may be required to submit certain documents, such as official transcripts and health records. Familiarize yourself with the program’s structure, academic calendar, and resources offered by the institute to online and on-campus students.

Engage Actively in Courses:

Now that you are part of this academic program, learn to make the most of it. Actively participate in discussions, group projects, and other collaborative activities. Leverage online resources provided by the program, such as webinars, virtual libraries, and discussion forums. 

Internships or Experiential Learning:

As a healthcare professional, getting the chance to work in healthcare settings is a great way to gain practical experience. Actively seek internships, part-time roles, or experiential learning opportunities in healthcare facilities. This allows you to apply theoretical knowledge from your coursework to real-world scenarios. You can then use these experiences to build your practical skills and make valuable industry connections.

Build a Professional Network:

Establishing a strong professional network in the healthcare industry can benefit you in the long run. Find networking opportunities like get-togethers and events, both virtual and in-person, to connect with professionals in the industry. You could also consider joining relevant professional organizations, LinkedIn groups, and attending industry conferences. When you actively engage with your peers and faculty, you build a strong professional network that can guide and support your career goals.

Capstone Project or Thesis:

Approach your capstone project or thesis as a chance to make a meaningful contribution to the field. Start by selecting a relevant and challenging topic that aligns with your interests and career objectives. Do not hesitate to seek guidance from your faculty mentors and industry experts to ensure the project is well-conceived, while also contributing to your academic and professional growth.
Getting an MBA in healthcare management opens up a range of career opportunities that can help you climb the corporate ladder. While salaries in the healthcare industry may vary greatly, this degree could help you land leadership roles in healthcare settings like hospitals, clinics, insurance companies and government agencies, leading to a decent paycheck.

Online healthcare management programs

With the rise in the availability of online education options, there are a plethora of online healthcare degrees that you can choose from. As a working professional, if you’re looking for a program that offers a convenient way to acquire business and management skills that are tailored to the healthcare industry, then an online healthcare MBA program may be your best bet. 

An online healthcare MBA program typically blends traditional MBA coursework with specialized healthcare courses. This offers you a comprehensive curriculum that covers areas such as healthcare policy, finance, operations, and leadership.

One of the main advantages of online healthcare MBA programs is the flexibility they offer. You can access lectures, assignments, and collaborative discussions from anywhere, allowing you to continue working while pursuing your degree. These programs also incorporate case studies and real-world examples that provide practical insights into the unique challenges and opportunities within the healthcare sector. What’s more,the opportunities to network with fellow professionals and access to experienced faculty with industry expertise can make for a well-rounded educational experience.

With the format of study being online, you get the opportunity to apply your learning immediately in your workplace, enhancing the relevance and impact of the education you receive. Accredited institutions that offer these programs ensure that graduates are well-prepared for leadership roles in healthcare settings, like hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, consulting firms, and other healthcare-related organizations.

There are some differences between healthcare management and healthcare administration, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Let’s look at some of the common differences that distinguish the two healthcare options:

AspectHealthcare ManagementHealthcare Administration
FocusManaging people and processes within a healthcare organization, often with an emphasis on strategic planning and leadership.Overall administration and coordination of healthcare services, with a focus on policy implementation, regulatory compliance, and organizational efficiency.
Roles and ResponsibilitiesInvolves overseeing day-to-day operations, staff management, financial planning, and strategic decision-making within healthcare settings.Includes broader administrative functions such as policy development, financial management, and coordination of services to ensure smooth operation of the healthcare system.
ScopeFocuses on the internal workings of a specific healthcare organization, such as a hospital or clinic.Broader in scope, addressing the administration of healthcare services at a system-wide level, including coordination between different healthcare facilities and entities.
Skills EmphasizedLeadership, team management, strategic planning, and operational efficiency within the scope of a particular healthcare organization.Policy development, regulatory compliance, financial management, and coordination skills that are applicable across the healthcare industry.
Career PathsOften leads to roles such as healthcare manager, department head, or executive within a specific healthcare institution.Can lead to positions such as healthcare administrator, health services manager, or executive roles overseeing healthcare systems or networks.

Embarking on the journey to earn an MBA degree in healthcare management involves a series of meticulous steps. From researching various programs that align with your educational needs to building a network that helps you achieve your career goals, each step is vital to earn this degree. This graduate program is designed to equip you with a specific set of skills and information needed to succeed in the healthcare industry, making you a desirable candidate in various healthcare settings. 
If you’re a working professional, you could choose online healthcare MBA programs that offer flexibility, as opposed to traditional ones that provide on-campus experiences. Obtaining this degree is a strategic move, as it marries business expertise with healthcare insights. Pursuing an MBA in healthcare management signifies a commitment to understanding the blend of business and healthcare, and unlocking the leadership opportunities available in this dynamic yet evergreen industry.

What is a certification in healthcare management?

A certification in healthcare management is a professional credential that validates your expertise and knowledge in the field of healthcare management and leadership. Offered by various professional organizations and institutions, these certifications require candidates to demonstrate proficiency in key areas such as healthcare policy, financial management, quality improvement, and strategic planning. Obtaining a healthcare management certification can enhance career prospects, indicating to employers that you have met specific standards of competence in navigating the complexities of healthcare administration.

How is a master’s in healthcare management different from an MBA in healthcare management?

While it may seem like both programs are alike, a master’s in healthcare management is somewhat different from an MBA in healthcare management. A master’s in health administration offers a curriculum that prepares you for specialized health administration roles in healthcare management, clinical settings and the health policy and public health sectors. On the other hand, an MBA in healthcare management offers a deep understanding of the management skills required to excel in the healthcare industry by focusing on the internal workings of healthcare organizations. Both degree programs can prepare you to climb the corporate ladder and become leaders in healthcare settings.

How does an MBA in healthcare administration differ from an MBA in healthcare management?

An MBA in healthcare administration and an MBA in healthcare management, both focus on the business aspects of the healthcare industry, yet they differ in emphasis. Healthcare administration focuses on the broader organizational and strategic elements, covering policy development, regulatory compliance, and overall system efficiency. On the flip side, healthcare management delves into the operational aspects, concentrating on day-to-day functions, team leadership, and resource optimization within healthcare facilities. It’s safe to say that administration addresses the macro-level challenges, while management hones in on micro-level operational intricacies, providing distinct skill sets for those aspiring to navigate different facets of the healthcare landscape.

Why is an MBA in healthcare management a terrific degree to pursue?

An MBA in healthcare management is an excellent degree as it equips professionals with a unique blend of business acumen and specialized knowledge in healthcare. This combination is crucial in navigating the complex and rapidly evolving healthcare industry. Graduates are well-prepared for leadership roles, contributing to improved patient care, efficient operations, and strategic decision-making. The degree opens doors to diverse career opportunities in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, consulting firms, and government agencies, addressing the growing demand for skilled professionals who can effectively manage and innovate within the healthcare sector.