Education and Training: Master’s degree in health administration
Average Salary: $80,240
Job Outlook: Very good
Practice managers are also known as medical and health service managers in the United States. They mostly work in large healthcare practices such as hospitals or multi-specialty clinics where practice managers handle workforce, administrative tasks, maintain patient records, and coordinate day to day business. A hospital may employ several practice managers with a specific area of expertise allotted to each.
As the name suggests, practice managers are responsible for managing the practice completely, leaving physicians free to do their job. In some practices, they may also be involved in business decisions like creating new policies or new business strategies.
Over time, a practice manager can get promoted to a chief administrative officer. A chief administrative officer usually oversees other practice managers.
Education and Training Requirements
A bachelor’s degree can help you get entry level administrative positions in small clinics and local healthcare centers. To become a practice manager, a master’s degree in healthcare administration or management is required as the job requires a thorough understanding of healthcare management principles, public administration, and health sciences.
Those without a master’s degree can get practice manager jobs in physician clinics where the workload is less compared to that of a hospital or a large healthcare facility.
More than 72 accredited colleges offer programs in healthcare administration and healthcare information management. Competition is stiff for these programs due to the increasing healthcare and wellness industry.
The American Health Information Management Association offers a certification program that can increase your chances of a getting a job.
Getting the Job
Graduates with a healthcare administration degree can start work in physician offices as administrative assistants. What kind of job you get after a bachelor or master’s degree in healthcare administration will depend on the city or state you want to work in.
Smaller practices in rural areas or towns hire those with bachelor degrees while those with a master’s degree can start off as administrative supervisors in larger hospitals. Administrative supervisors get promoted to practice managers after 3-4 years of work experience.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development
Medical and healthcare service managers will not experience any shortage of jobs due to the rapidly expanding healthcare industry.
Those with exceptional computer skills and technological knowledge can expect to land better paying jobs.
Practice managers typically start out in administrative jobs handling only one area at a time like billing or patient records. Over time, they get promoted to healthcare managers and can later take on roles like heading the administrative department or handling a team of junior practice managers.
Working Conditions and Environment
Working conditions for practice managers are comfortable, with most healthcare managers working from their private offices. Since they are a part of the healthcare industry, they work in shifts and may have to work longer than the standard forty hour work routine. Senior practice managers have to be on call round the clock and may need to travel to inspect satellite facilities.
Salary and Benefits
As of May 2008, the median annual wage for practice managers in the United States was $80,240, with the top 10% earning more than $130,000 a year. According to the Medical Group Management Association, the salaries vary depending on the employer. Those working in smaller facilities are paid less compared to their counterparts working in large hospitals. They receive benefits like sick leave, medical insurance and paid time off.
Where to Go for More Information
American College of Healthcare Administration
1321 Duke St, Ste. 400
Alexandria, VA 22314
American College of Healthcare Executives
Medical Group Management Association
104 Inverness Terrace E
Englewood, CO 80112
American Health Information Management Association
233 N Michigan Ave., 21st Fl.
Chicago, IL 60601