8 Reasons to Consider a Career in Health Services Management
By Will Erstad on 06/06/2018
You’ve slogged your way through enough days in a dead-end job and can’t help but daydream a little about a fulfilling career where you get to run the show—at least to some extent. The good news is there is a variety of options out there across a wide range of industries for any budding leader who wants to put their management skills to use.
But if you’re looking for a position in a growing industry that can both fulfill your desire to dedicate your career to meaningful work while also offering you strong earning potential, you might consider setting your sights on health services management.
Curious to learn more about a potential career in the business side of healthcare? We’ve delved into the data and asked the experts to help lay out some of the top reasons why a career in health services management is worth pursuing.
8 Reasons a health services management career could be right for you
1. Healthcare is a steady industry
Technology has allowed entire industry sectors—hotels, taxis and Hollywood, to name a few—to be flipped on their heads and completely shaken up. While many may love the products and apps that are changing these fields at such a rapid pace, this potential for upheaval might make you a little uneasy about making long-term career plans in industries that don’t serve a more fundamental need.
Management positions generally take many years of committed work to land, which is precisely why setting out with a focus in the healthcare field can be so appealing. The need for medical treatment and other healthcare services in the U.S. is not going anywhere. Even in the event of some monumental change—governmental, technological or otherwise—the healthcare field will remain complex and require administrators and managers with expertise to navigate it.
2. The earning potential is strong
While it may take some time to work your way up to a management position in healthcare, the reward for reaching that point is pretty substantial. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2017 median annual salary for medical and health services managers was $98,350, while other management positions reported a median annual salary closer to $88,720.*
The nearly $10,000 dollar annual premium placed on managers and administrators with healthcare-specific knowledge and experience can make the time spent earning your degree and building up the relevant industry experience for a health services management position more than worth it in the end.
3. It boasts a bright job outlook
A strong salary and stable industry are both great, but they won’t do you a lot of good if the job opportunities aren’t there. Fortunately, the job outlook for human services mangers is very strong. The BLS projects a robust 20 percent growth in employment for health services managers by 2026. That compares favorably to other management occupations, which are projected to grow in employment by just eight percent.*
Much of what is driving this growth is based on meeting the growing demand for healthcare services from aging baby boomers. Nursing homes and specialized clinics may expand their services, which means they’ll need additional support from competent healthcare administrators and managers.
4. The work has meaning
A career is a marathon, not a sprint—and when you’re in something for the long haul, it helps to know that your effort is being put toward something worthwhile. The healthcare industry is unique in that those who work in healthcare go to work every day knowing the effort they put in will either directly or indirectly help people receive care; that can be a powerful long-term motivator.
“Healthcare was appealing because the profit margins were strong, the teams are easily motivated and the work is fulfilling personally and challenging professionally,” offers Erik Rosenow, chief operating officer at Animal Specialty Center.
5. The potential for improvement is high
Many healthcare organizations—particularly patient care providers—have room for improvement when it comes to finding efficiencies and managing the “business” side of their work. “There is so much opportunity for it in the field for operational leaders and professional managers,” Rosenow says. “Many of these skills are overlooked in medical schools and technical training programs, which solely focus on medicine and medical practice.”
Many practices are owned by physicians or other medical practitioners who may only possess a limited understanding of how to optimize their business practices. While guiding the work and business practices of intelligent and highly trained professionals might have some challenges, it also means there’s a world of potential to tap into. If you’re a person who loves the challenge of boosting efficiency through developing processes and systems, then you’ll likely have some excellent “raw material” to work with.
6. You can be an expert teaching experts
Many who work in health services management enjoy the opportunity to educate and train other professionals with deeply specialized knowledge. “I’m satisfied in teaching doctors and medical staff about leadership, management, organizational change and facilitating their curiosity and intellectual development,” Rosenow says.
Doctors and healthcare professionals are an intelligent and respected bunch, and that can make it all the more satisfying when you have the opportunity to assist them in their professional development.
7. The healthcare industry is evolving
Elements of the Affordable Care Act have spurred some pretty massive changes in how healthcare facilities operate. The adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and other technology-driven systems can present exciting opportunities for health services managers who would like to utilize data to optimize the operations of their facilities. Technologies like telehealth and improved records systems are only scratching the surface of exciting potential changes.
Combine that with potential regulatory changes and shifts in healthcare policy, and you have a combination for a career that will keep you engaged and on your toes. “Healthcare is a very fast paced, challenging industry, but it is not an industry for the faint of heart,” says Robin Weston, director of revenue cycle / physician billing partners at Medstreaming. “Things change rapidly and are often due to factors beyond our control. But I love my work because it is challenging, fast-paced and has a lot of variety.”
8. You’d like to branch out from direct-patient care
You don’t necessarily need to have experience working in a directly patient-facing role to get started in health services management. That said, it is an excellent career option for people who have worked in those roles but would now like to remain in the healthcare field while stepping away from the daily hustle and bustle of patient care.
Dr. Jennifer Trout, department chair of the Healthcare Management program at Rasmussen College, says “retiring” nurses often turn to this field as a way to make a change in their career while still following some of the motivations that led them to healthcare in the first place. “Many healthcare management students have a sense of wanting to help people and give back to the community,” she explains.
Is a healthcare management career in your future?
As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to pursue a management position in the healthcare field—it’s a strong industry with a ton of potential for you to grow in. But how can you make the jump into a health services management career?
If you’re interested in learning more about pursuing this path, then check out our article, “Your 5-Step Guide on How to Become a Healthcare Manager.”
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [career information accessed April 20, 2018] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.