Medical career terminology can often be confusing.  Certain terms can be used interchangeably which can lead to misconceptions about a particular program of study or profession.  The confusion of career terminology is not unique to the medical field either.  For instance, many people are unaware of the difference between criminology and criminal justice, or computer information systems and computer science

In the medical field, two such terms are Healthcare Management and Healthcare Administration.  The public perception is often that these terms are so similar – possibly even identical – that they are used in casual conversation as if they were one and the same.  However, there are differences between Healthcare Management and Healthcare Administration.  While both fields obviously deal with healthcare, they each possess unique characteristics that are the bases of the foundations for their specific educational and career paths.

Healthcare Management

Healthcare management typically refers to the managing of all business aspects of a healthcare facility.  Nearly all healthcare industry management positions require an advanced degree, preferably an MBA in Healthcare Management.  This is a rapidly expanding field that shows no signs of slowing down as more and more facilities are seeking qualified individuals to manage their organizations. 

An MBA in Healthcare Management emphasizes coursework on the business of healthcare, standards of patient care, organizational policies and budget management.  With an MBA, a healthcare management professional has the qualifications and background to form a business plan tailor-made to a company’s specific professional goals and interests, gain valuable experience through the practice of modern theories of effective negotiation, management and leadership and make critical decisions through effective problem solving. 

Careers in Healthcare Management, depending on education and experience, may include executive positions in the following settings:

  • Hospitals
  • Mental Health Organizations
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Universities and Research Institutions
  • Health Insurance Organizations
  • Nursing Homes

Examples of entry-level healthcare management jobs might include: human resources, marketing and public affairs, medical staff relations, nursing administration and patient care services.

Healthcare Administration

This field relates more to the management of staff associated with a particular department of healthcare.  Coursework in this area is designed to develop confidence in analytical and decisions making skills for the complex and dynamic environments of all kinds of healthcare facilities.  Healthcare administration professionals may be responsible for tasks that include meeting regulatory requirements, supporting and encouraging employees, providing compassionate and expert care to patients and their families and managing finances. 

Direct patient care experience is considered an asset to this profession, but many healthcare administrators specialize in public health, business or other administrative areas where direct patient contact is not applicable.  It is critical that healthcare administration professionals are skilled in handling finances, hiring the best staff and effectively responding to an ever-changing, always challenging regulatory environment.

Careers in healthcare administration may include:

  • Home Healthcare/Operations Management
  • VP of Healthcare Management Services
  • Community Relations Manager
  • Director of Healthcare Services

Healthcare management and healthcare administration careers both require the ability and commitment to put patients and their families first while still meeting the complicated regulations and financial demands of our nation’s complex healthcare system.  Often called “the most regulated business in America,” healthcare demands well-trained and effective professionals who are ready to work toward creating environments that support staff, increase patient satisfaction and move the healthcare facility into a cost-effective direction.

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