Despite current economic challenges, jobs in healthcare fields remain strong. Managing public healthcare well takes the skills and knowledge of professionals with diverse health career backgrounds. It is a promising and rewarding career path for those wishing to transition out of the direct patient care environment of nursing or other allied health job, but who also wish to continue working in a healthcare related field.

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Healthcare facilities depend on medical and health service managers to coordinate records, streamline data procedures, consult on policy changes, and implement changes that improve the efficiency of patient care. Doctor’s offices, long term care facilities, residential treatment centers, medical centers and large hospitals all require the knowledge and skills of healthcare managers to support the complex administration of healthcare systems.

There are many different career paths available for professionals interested in managing public healthcare. Experience and educational background varies from position to position and person to person. The field is versatile and many employers offer advancement opportunities through tuition assistance programs and/or in-house training.

Educational Requirements

With on the job training and an associate of arts degree in a scientific related field, with supporting business administration classes, an entry level professional can expect to fulfill the requirements for an administrative assistant or basic healthcare data entry job. However, for those seeking advancement a four year degree is recommended.

With a bachelor’s degree from a reputable online or traditional four year college, professionals can expect increased levels of responsibility which can translate into leadership opportunities. Many health service managers hold clinical degrees and transition into management by seeking health administration classes to augment their clinical experience. Managers in public health care may work closely with doctors, nurses, IT professionals, or training executives to bring about a wide variety of increased efficiency related to patient services. Most health care managers pursue a master’s degree to remain competitive for the most coveted jobs.

Health care executives, department supervisors, assistant administrators, clinical managers, and health information managers are all specific titles related to Master’s level leadership roles in managing public healthcare. In addition to securing advanced knowledge in a health care administration, vital skills for public health care managers also include staying current in relevant technology and understanding Federal guidelines and regulations related to the management of public health care records.

The master’s degree usually includes coursework in a specialized area and generally takes two years to complete. In recent years, online courses have become available that provide flexible scheduling and offer shorter timelines for completion of the Master’s degree. Based upon one’s area of expertise, additional credentials may be required for work in special settings, such as nursing homes. See the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition; Medical and Health Services Managers.

In university settings, a Ph.D. may be required, adding 3 to 5 more years to the educational pursuit. This usually depends on whether or not work from the master’s degree transfers toward the completion of the Ph.D. Top research positions and university teaching jobs are the main positions held by professionals holding a Ph.D. in Healthcare Administration. The most common degree among public health care leaders is a master’s degree from a reputable online or traditional college or university with regional accreditation.

Other Benefits

Jobs in healthcare settings routinely offer a comprehensive benefit plan and room for professional growth which attracts many candidates. In addition to solid skills and a degree from a reputable institution, candidates interested in managing public health care also need strong people skills, unwavering integrity, and an ability to work well alone and as a part of a team. Ongoing professional development is an essential component of this job since the technology used to document, monitor, and report health care data is constantly evolving.

Working in public healthcare administration is an important job which helps to ensure that patient services are delivered with integrity and managed in an efficient way, in accordance with best practice standards in the field. Professionals who monitor database security and uphold confidentiality at all levels of public health care management raise the confidence in the health care system as a whole and bring an added level of comfort to patients and families who depend on the administration of health procedures and practices to go smoothly for loved ones in need. Along with the extrinsic rewards of a steady and solid income, professionals managing public healthcare also have the added intrinsic reward of knowing their contribution impacts the positive experience of patients and their families.

With so many points of entry, the field of public healthcare management is a popular choice for healthcare professionals looking to transition out of direct patient care, for career changers looking to apply their business skills in a healthcare setting, or for students who may not feel ready to lock in on one particular career path. With room for advancement and ongoing professional development, the field draws professionals who enjoy life -long learning and want to work in a field that positively impacts the public healthcare system. Many employers offer excellent benefits which can include tuition assistance for career advancement.

Growth in healthcare fields means the competition will be tough for top jobs, so it is important to seek out a quality education. Internships and networking through professional organizations may also be a way to boost marketability and add experience to your résumé while completing classes. Taking the time to gain knowledge and experience aimed at setting your credentials apart from other candidates can really pay off in a tough economy where the competition for the most desirable jobs is greatest.

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