Health Services Management Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Info

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What will you learn in a health services management associate's or bachelor's degree program? Read about health services management degree program requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Health Services Management: Degrees at a Glance

An associate's or bachelor's degree program in health services management can prepare students for a career in hospitals, long term care facilities or health research centers. Health services management professionals serve a vital role in the patient care process. They are often responsible for billing, collections and human resources duties. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graduates of both associate's and bachelor's degree programs can expect excellent job prospects during 2010-2020 in this rapidly expanding field (www.bls.gov).

Here's a side by side comparison of these degrees:

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals pursuing an entry or mid-level position or wishing to continue their education Individuals seeking mid-level management positions in health care or those wishing to advance their education
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Office manager, medical office ($26,000-$58,000 in the 10th to 90th percentile range)**
-Patient services coordinator ($23,000-$49,000 in the 10th to 90th percentile range)**
- Nursing home administrator ($40,000-$108,000 in the 10th to 90th percentile range)**
- Medical and health services managers ($96,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements -Roughly 80 credits of coursework -120 credits of coursework
-Completion of a supervised learning experience
Prerequisites - High school diploma or GED
- Some programs may require the completion of prerequisite courses
- High school diploma, GED or associate's degree
-Completion of prerequisite coursework
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures),**Payscale (June 2012 figures).

Associate of Science in Health Services Management

An associate's degree program prepares students for entry or mid-level careers in health services management. Common job titles for graduates of these programs include hospital office manager, administrative assistant or patient services coordinator. According to the BLS, many employers require that medical or health services managers have a bachelor's degree.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • An associate's degree program can prepare to students enter the workforce in a relatively short amount of time and earn a decent salary; the annual salary for a medical office manager ranges from $26,000 to $58,000**
  • Credits earned in an associate's degree program may transfer to a 4-year bachelor's degree program
  • Most programs have few admission or prerequisite requirements

Cons

  • Degree will not lead to a career in upper-level management; work experience is necessary to advance into these positions
  • Prerequisite courses may extend the amount of time required to earn the degree
  • Students need a current CPR card and updated immunizations to begin an externship at a medical facility

**Payscale.com (June 2012 figures)

Common Courses and Requirements

Students in an associate's degree program complete courses in accounting, health management and computer applications. Some programs also include an externship. Courses you might take include:

  • Health information systems procedures
  • Medical insurance billing
  • Introduction to health services
  • Medical problems and programs
  • Management of health facilities

Online Degree Options

Online associate's degree programs in health services management are available. The curriculum of these programs is usually the same as traditional on-campus programs. However, even when attending an online program you still must complete your externship in person.

Stand Out with this Degree

To stand out with this degree, consider becoming proficient in using electronic medical records software programs. A course in health information systems or health data management gives you knowledge of the purposes and use of these programs in the field of health services management. This knowledge may help you stand out against your competition.

Bachelor of Science in Health Services Management

A bachelor's degree program in health services management prepares students for mid-level management careers in hospitals, nursing homes and medical centers. Graduates pursuing a career as a medical or health services manager can expect excellent job prospects; the BLS expects demand for these professionals to increase 22% between 2010 and 2020.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Degree prepares students to enter a master's degree program if desired
  • Most programs allow students to complete an externship, in which they gain hands-on experience
  • Many programs are available entirely online

Cons

  • Admission to most bachelor's degree programs is extremely competitive, with only 30 to 35 applicants admitted per year
  • Some schools only allow students to enter the program if they can complete the prerequisite coursework in a set amount of time; students failing to complete these prerequisites in the allotted time may be dismissed from the program
  • Some programs may require completion of prerequisite classes before granting a student full admission to the program

Courses and Requirements

Coursework in a health services management bachelor's degree program covers topics like healthcare finance, personal management and health information management. Students also usually need to complete an externship or supervised learning experience at a medical facility prior to graduation. Some schools offer students interested in becoming licensed nursing home administrators the opportunity to complete a practicum in this field during their studies. Common courses in these programs include:

  • Professional ethical codes & law in health care
  • Health care payment systems
  • Leadership in health care
  • Strategic management in health services organizations
  • Community health and development

Online Degree Options

Online bachelor's degree health services management programs are widely available. Some of these programs are strictly 'degree completion programs', and require that students have completed two years of college for admission. In these programs, students learn the same material as if they attended an on campus program.

Stand Out with this Degree

With this degree, you can distinguish yourself from the crowd by joining health services management student organizations. Being a part of these organizations can help you gain experience in leadership roles, network with peers and explore career opportunities.

Additionally, consider honing your technical skills by completing a course in health service management information systems. This course teaches you about the hardware and software programs that manage patient records and process bills. This knowledge can help you stand out against your competition.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Health Services Admin
      • Associate of Science - Medical Administrative Billing and Coding
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Health Care Administration, A.S.
  • 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

  • Greeley, CO

    Aims Community College

  • Perrysburg, OH

    Owens Community College

  • Stanford, CA

    Stanford University

Featured Schools

Keiser University

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

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Christian University

  • Health Care Administration, A.S.

What is your highest level of education completed?

Kirkwood Community College

Jackson College

Henry Ford Community College

Crowder College

Allied Health Institute

Aims Community College