Health Care Management: Bachelor, Associate & Online Degree Info

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What kind of jobs can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in health care management? Find out associate's and bachelor's degree requirements, online options and info on courses in healthcare management programs.
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Studying Health Care Management: Associate's and Bachelor's Degrees at a Glance

Health care management professionals coordinate the medical and health services found in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and other types of medical facilities. Their specific duties may involve hiring and firing staff members, developing services, managing finances, implementing technology and organizing records. In smaller facilities, there may be just one health care manager who oversees all operations, while larger facilities will have multiple managers who are in charge of specific departments. A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement to work as a health care services manager; however, those who earn an associate's degree may be able to work as health care technicians. Technicians are responsible for maintaining records and keeping track of patient information in a medical facility.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals who want to find jobs in medical facilities as technicians Those who want to work as health care managers
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) -Medical records and health information technician ($36,000)*
-Medical transcriptionist ($34,000)*
-Medical and health services manager ($96,000)*
Time to Completion two years full-time four years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - About 20-24 courses
-
-40-48 courses
- Internships
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's in Health Care Management Technology

After completing an associate's degree program in health care management technology, you could begin working as a technician or transfer your credits into a bachelor's degree program. The associate's degree program will teach you how to apply management and business principles to a medical environment. You'll learn how to plan, organize and oversee various tasks related to health care management. Even with an associate's degree, you may still need to undergo on-the-job training.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Opportunity to transfer credits into bachelor's program
  • Work in a comfortable environment
  • Employment opportunities available in any type of medical facility (hospitals, doctors' offices, nursing care facilities, etc.)

Cons

  • Won't qualify you to work as a health care administrator
  • May have to overnight shifts
  • Limited advancement opportunities

Courses and Requirements

Students who enroll in a health care management program at the associate's degree level will take both general education requirements and health care-related courses. Examples of courses include medical terminology, medical insurance, health care management, medical legal and ethical issues, software applications and finance. The program may also require you to complete a co-op work experience in a medical facility; this will give you an opportunity to work in a professional environment under the supervision of an experienced technician.

Online Course Options

Online associate's degree programs in health care management are available for students with professional or personal obligations that prevent them from taking courses on campus. Students will be able to view lectures, submit assignments and communicate with professors over the Internet. The technical requirements often include having a computer Internet access, an updated operating system and Microsoft Office Suite.

How to Stand Out

While earning an associate's degree will qualify you for jobs as a technician, you can improve your employment prospects by obtaining certification in the field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that most employers prefer hiring certified technicians. Certification is available through several organizations and often requires passing an examination. One certification you could earn is the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) designation offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). The AHIMA notes that earning this certification could help you obtain management positions. To qualify for the RHIT exam, you'll need to earn an associate's degree from an accredited health information management program.

Bachelor's in Health Care Management

A bachelor's degree in health care management can prepare you to work in a variety of health care environments, overseeing an entire department or facility. Programs combine health care and business principles, and they teach you how to manage both patients and finances. Courses prepare you to make critical decisions regarding patient care and introduce you to the policies, laws and regulations affecting the health care industry. While earning a bachelor's degree can help you get your foot in the door, a master's degree may be necessary to obtain some positions.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Able to obtain entry-level management positions
  • Opportunity to make decisions that improve patient health
  • Health care industry is expected to grow (employment of health services managers was expected to grow 22% between 2010 and 2020)*

Cons

  • May have to make difficult decisions regarding patient care
  • Long days may be necessary
  • Some facilities may require a master's degree

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

The first two years of a bachelor's degree program in health care management typically include general education courses and introductory business courses, such as accounting, statistics, management principles and marketing. After you complete the first two years, you'll take high-level financial and health care-related courses. Course topics may involve project management, financial systems, health care economics, organizational behavior, privacy protection and health care systems. Programs often require you to complete an internship toward the end of your studies so you can apply what you've learned in the classroom to real-world situations and environments.

Online Course Options

Individuals who are already working in the health care field may want to continue their educations in an online bachelor's degree program. An online program offers you the opportunity to work in a collaborative, virtual environment with students and professors. While you will be able to complete all the courses online, you may still need to complete an internship in person.

How to Stand Out

In order to stand out to potential employers, you may consider earning certification from a professional organization. The American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM) offers the Certified Patients Account Manager (CPAM) and Certified Clinic Account Manager (CCAM) designations. In order to be eligible to test for one of these certifications, you must be a member of the AAHAM and have either four years of health care experience or two years of experience plus an associate's degree. You could choose the CPAM credential if you want to work in hospital management, or you could choose the CCAM credential if you want to work in clinic management. These certifications are nationally recognized and could be helpful in obtaining employment, according to the AAHAM. Being a member of a professional organization, such as the AAHAM, comes with additional benefits. You'll have access to industry publications and the opportunity to network with other professionals.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Healthcare Management
      • Associate: Health Information Management
      • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Health Services Admin
      • Associate of Science - Medical Administrative Billing and Coding
  • Cedar Rapids, IA

    Kirkwood Community College

  • Jackson, MI

    Jackson College

  • Dearborn, MI

    Henry Ford Community College

  • Neosho, MO

    Crowder College

  • Plantation, FL

    Allied Health Institute

  • Perrysburg, OH

    Owens Community College

  • Greeley, CO

    Aims Community College

Featured Schools

Herzing University

  • Associate: Healthcare Management
  • Associate: Health Information Management
  • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Associate of Arts - Health Services Admin
  • Associate of Science - Medical Administrative Billing and Coding

What is your highest level of education?

Kirkwood Community College

Jackson College

Henry Ford Community College

Crowder College

Allied Health Institute

Owens Community College