Clinical Management Master's and PhDs at a Glance
Clinical management is a broad area of study that covers most health service and medical administrative positions. Some positions in this field are more clerical, while others directly involve patients and medical work. A master's degree or PhD in the field may not be required, as many jobs in the field are available if you hold a bachelor's degree. However, to enter certain management positions, academia or fields of clinical or scientific research, a higher degree may be necessary. Clinical management studies at the PhD level are usually found within a healthcare management program.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that the number of jobs for medical and health services managers would increase by 22% from 2010-2020, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS noted that a great deal of new medical facilities would be built in that period of time, which should lead to an increasing demand for healthcare managers.
|Who is this degree for?||People interested in clinical management and education positions within the private or public sectors||Individuals who want to go into health research management or become a university professor|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary)|| - Medical and surgical hospital manager ($102,000)*|
- Doctor's office manager ($94,000)*
- Nursing care facility manager ($81,000)*
- Home health care service manager ($86,000)*
- Outpatient care center manager ($93,000)*
- Junior college health specialties professor ($65,000)*
| - Specialty hospital clinical manager ($107,000)*|
- Postsecondary health specialties professor ($99,000)*
|Time to Completion||1-2 years full-time||4-5 years after the completion of a master's degree|
|Common Graduation Requirements|| - About 13 graduate-level courses |
- Master's thesis/research paper
- Master's exams
| - Roughly 12-15 graduate-level courses|
- PhD qualifier exams
- Dissertation proposal
|Prerequisites||- Bachelor's degree in clinical management or a related field|| - Bachelor's or master's degree in clinical management or a related field|
- GRE scores
- Letters of recommendation
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).
Master's in Clinical Management
To earn your master's degree in this field, you can take one of two main approaches. The first choice is to simply enter a clinical management master's degree program. Depending on the focus, these programs can go by various other names, such as clinical leadership or clinical systems management. The other option is to earn a master's degree in nursing with a clinical management specialization.
Most clinical management master's degree programs are designed to train you for leadership positions in a clinical or medical setting. Upon completion of the program, you should be able to combine technology and finance with human resources to provide the highest quality patient care possible. Different programs sometimes have different primary focuses; for example, you could choose to attend a program centered on the theories and practices of trans-cultural nursing.
Pros and Cons
- A master's degree in clinical management can give you the skills you need to be a successful leader in a medical environment
- There's a shortage of clinical managers who are educated at the graduate level
- You could teach at community colleges if you decide to take a break from clinical management
- Many jobs you're qualified for only require a bachelor's degree
- If you don't have much experience in the field, you could end up overqualified from an education perspective while not meeting the experience requirements of many available positions
- A master's degree program in clinical management can be very expensive and consume a lot of your time, limiting how much experience you can get before you graduate
Courses and Requirements
Although your course load in a master's degree program in clinical management depends somewhat on your chosen area of expertise, there are a number of subjects that you can expect to cover in most programs. The following are a few courses that you may have the option to take:
- Health care leadership methods
- Managing finance in health care systems
- Healthcare and computers
- Clinical marketing
- Organizational theory
- Clinical ethics
- Medical research techniques
In addition to the coursework, you'll typically be required to complete a number of exams, essays and lab experiences. Not all schools require a thesis, so you may just have to finish your coursework and research experiences to complete the clinical management program.
Online Degree Options
If you're currently employed or have limited amounts of time for other reasons, then earning your master's degree in clinical management online may be a good option. Although the coursework and exams for a master's program are readily available online, there is a chance you'll need to come to the campus for some lab work.
Getting Ahead With This Degree
Obtaining healthcare management board certification as a Fellow of the College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) can be a very helpful boost to your resume. The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) offers this credential, which requires a graduate degree before you can qualify. You could also beef up your resume and increase your appeal to employers by earning the Certified Medical Manager (CMM) designation from the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM). The CMM credential shows employers that you have the skills needed to manage a modern medical office.
PhD in Clinical Management
Because there aren't PhD programs in clinical management, students looking for studies in clinical management usually pursue a PhD in Healthcare Management. This type of program features very small class sizes and a great deal of individual study and research. You'll often get to work one-on-one with professors, particularly if your area of research correlates with a professor's interests. You could even end up working as a research assistant as you progress towards completing the program.
A healthcare management program at the PhD level allows you to focus on a specific research area, such as health policy, economics of health, bioethics or public health. Your chosen area of research and expertise is meant to prepare you for a specific career path in the field.
Pros and Cons
- A PhD can give you the skills and knowledge you need to enter the fields of academia or healthcare research
- Your research could change the face of healthcare and clinical management
- Could lead to a tenure-track position and eventually allow you to become a tenured professor
- Specialization options give you a chance to focus your studies on a specific interest in clinical management, which is not available at the master's level
- Academic and research job searches tend to be nationwide or international, so there's a chance that you'll be required to move to start your career
- Getting into a PhD program in healthcare management can be extremely competitive and difficult
- There's no guarantee that you'll get tenure, even with a tenure-track position
Courses and Requirements
Although the healthcare management courses you take may depend on your chosen area of research, the following are few courses that you might encounter at the doctorate level:
- Health statistics
- Accounting and finance
- Health marketing
- Managing public policy
The course load is typically only a small fraction of the work that you'll be required to complete in order to earn your PhD. Some programs may require you to complete a residency. Your final 2 years are usually spent working on the dissertation. After you craft a dissertation proposal, you'll present it before a board for approval. Once it's approved, you'll research, write and defend your dissertation in front of a committee.
Online Degree Options
You may be able to complete certain aspects of your PhD in an online format, but you'll need to go to campus for the majority of the program. Since your research is supervised by a faculty member, you'll need to be near the campus to meet with that person or work on other research-intensive assignments. Be wary of any schools that claim to offer this program completely online and check with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that the schools are approved by a legitimate accrediting agency.
Stand Out With This Degree
Here are some tips that may give you an edge over other PhD holders:
- Meet with faculty members at potential schools before enrolling in a program. If you have specific research interests that you'd like to pursue with the PhD program, finding a professor who shares your interests may help you with your dissertation and give you more insight about the subjects you care about.
- Take advantage of any research projects/teaching opportunities that are available outside of your program requirements. You may have the opportunity to assist a professor with his or her research. If you're interested in becoming a teacher, you might want to teach some undergraduate courses while you're working on your PhD.
- Try to have your writing, research findings and passages of your dissertation published in peer-reviewed academic or medical journals.