Pros and Cons of Being a Medical Program Manager
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical program managers, also called medical and health services managers, are responsible for overseeing a facility's clinical services and supervising staff members. The following is a list of pros and cons that can help you decide if this profession is suitable for you:
|Pros of Being a Medical Program Manager|
|Can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing facilities and physician's offices*|
|Opportunity to improve the quality of healthcare services*|
|Faster-than-average job growth (23% projected growth from 2012-2022)*|
|High earning potential (top 10% earned about $161,000 or more as of May 2014)*|
|Cons of Being a Medical Program Manager|
|Some positions require a nursing license**|
|Some employers require a master's degree*|
|Often must work extended hours (nights, weekends and overnight)*|
|Working in a hospital setting can be fast-paced and stressful**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **CareerBuilder.com job postings from November-December 2012
As a medical program manager, you might manage a specific program, several programs or a particular department. Typically, those who manage a department are called clinical managers, according to the BLS. Some of the responsibilities you may have as a medical program manager include developing and recommending programs that can improve patient care, ensuring that programs are effective and efficient, conducting staff training, coordinating schedules, supervising clinical staff, interpreting company policies to ensure compliance and managing program budgets.
You also might find employment as a health information manager or medical informatics program manager. In this role, you would be responsible for the overall storage, accessibility and security of medical records. You also might perform evaluations to determine the effectiveness of health information technology systems and oversee the selection of software programs and databases used to store information.
Job Outlook and Salary Info
For 2012-2022, the BLS projected 23% growth in employment for medical program managers. A growing elderly population is more likely to require emergency and prolonged healthcare, which is one reason for this above-average increase in employment. The BLS also noted that employment of medical program managers was expected to grow at private doctor's offices, since more of these facilities offer outpatient procedures that were once exclusive to hospitals. As of May 2014, the lowest-paid 10% of medical program managers earned about $56,000 or less, while the highest-paid 10% earned about $161,000 or more, according to the BLS.
What Are the Requirements?
According to the BLS, you typically need to complete a bachelor's degree program in a related healthcare discipline to become a medical program manager. However, some facilities require that you have a master's degree. Some common majors for this occupation include business administration, healthcare administration, health information management, nursing, public administration or public health. According to job postings, clinical managers might need to have a registered nurse (RN) license. The BLS also noted that medical program managers should have strong communication, organizational and problem-solving skills in order to effectively interact with employees, address complaints, maintain healthcare records and understand complex regulatory procedures.
Job Postings from Real Employers
Most employers requested that medical program managers hold at least a bachelor's degree in a related field or an RN license. Job postings also showed that 3-5 years of experience was usually required. Below are job postings for different types of medical program manager positions that can give you some insight into what real employers were looking for in November and December of 2012.
- A Minnesota hospital sought a clinical services manager to oversee several departments. The candidate needed 3-5 years of experience in patient care, an RN license and certification in basic life support. Job duties included developing practices and procedures, implementing team-building techniques and addressing patient/staff needs.
- A healthcare company in Phoenix, AZ, was looking for a senior programs manager to oversee one or more complex programs. The candidate would be responsible for creating programs, maintaining budgets and schedules, ensuring programs met grant requirements and overseeing staff. The candidate needed 8-10 years of experience and a bachelor's degree in business administration or information technology. However, the employer preferred a candidate with a master's degree and certification in project management.
- A health services company in San Diego, CA, wanted an RN clinical manager for its cardiopulmonary division. The employer was looking for a candidate with at least 3 years of experience in home care and at least 1 year of management experience. The candidate also needed an RN or physical therapy (PT) license. Job duties included managing all clinical activities, supervising clinical staff and participating in performance improvement activities.
- A Los Angeles, CA, healthcare company sought a program manager for its behavioral health department. The candidate needed a bachelor's degree, but the employer preferred a master's degree in a discipline such as public administration, public policy or social work. The employer was also looking for a candidate with 3-5 years of experience in the healthcare field and strong communication skills. Job duties included managing information sharing and contractual agreements, designing projects and evaluating project outcomes.
- A university hospital in Cleveland, OH, wanted to hire a health information manager with 3-5 years of related experience in a hospital setting. The employer requested a candidate with a degree in health information administration and knowledge of state hospital regulations. The candidate would be responsible for ensuring the security of records, gathering data and implementing information technology procedures to meet organizational goals.
How to Stand Out in the Field
You can stand out as a medical program manager by obtaining professional certification from an organization such as the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM). The AAHAM offers the Certified Clinic Account Manager (CCAM) and the Certified Patient Account Manager (CPAM) credentials. The CCAM designation is geared toward medical professionals who work at medical clinics or doctor's offices, while the CPAM credential is designed for hospital administrative managers. Some of the topics covered in the certification exams include billing, collections, patient access and revenue cycle management.
Since the job of a medical program manager involves managing budgets, earning the CCAM or CPAM designation can demonstrate to employers your level of competency in handling finances. To maintain your certification, you must pay annual dues and accumulate at least 40 hours of continuing education points, including 20 points earned through attendance of AAHAM programs.
Other Careers to Consider
Social or Community Services Manager
For a career that also involves managing different programs, consider becoming a social or community services manager. In this position, you might oversee programs targeted toward specific population groups, such as children, homeless people, low-income families, the unemployed and veterans. Typically, social and community services managers work for government agencies, non-profit organizations or for-profit social services companies.
Some of your responsibilities might involve meeting with potential donors and community members to discuss program initiatives, conducting fundraising events, managing program budgets and gathering statistical data to determine the success of programs. To become a social or community services manager, you typically need a bachelor's degree in social work, public administration or a related subject. The BLS noted that these professionals were expected to see a 27% increase in employment from 2010-2020. As of May 2011, the median salary earned by social and community service managers was about $59,000, according to the BLS.
Human Resources Manager
You can also work to improve the quality of service provided by staff members as a human resources manager. In this position, you might coordinate services that best utilize employee skills, take care of staffing issues, manage an organization's hiring process and update department managers on organizational policies. You generally need a bachelor's degree to become a human resources manager; however, you may need a master's degree for positions that require more expertise. As of May 2011, the BLS found that human resources managers earned a median salary of about $99,000. The BLS also noted that these professionals were expected to undergo a 13% increase in employment from 2010-2020, which was average.