Healthcare is an exciting and dynamic field that is constantly evolving with new innovations and emerging technologies, making it the perfect fit for people who would describe themselves as lifelong learners. Students who are thinking about pursuing a career in healthcare, but who aren’t quite sure that they want to provide direct patient care, still have plenty of other options available. For instance, some students might decide to pursue a career as a clinical manager.
A clinical manager, also known as a medical services or health services manager, is someone who handles the business side of healthcare organizations. Rather than delivering patient care, clinical managers focus on improving the efficiency of hospital departments and the quality of patient care. Their work enables doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers to deliver the best possible care to patients while still enabling the organization to turn a profit.
A Typical Clinical Manager Job Description
Before making up your mind about whether to pursue a career in healthcare management, you may want to take a closer look at a typical clinical manager job description. This job title typically refers to a professional who is in charge of managing a specific department within a hospital or a standalone clinic. However, some employers may use this job title to refer to a manager who is responsible for overseeing all of the departments within a hospital.
The specific, day-to-day tasks of a clinical manager will vary, depending on the type of organization they work for and whether they are managing a department or a whole facility. In general, however, these professionals may do any of the following:
- Draft or revise the goals, mission and vision of the department or the entire healthcare organization
- Stay on top of the latest healthcare regulations and compliance requirements, and ensure the facility remains in full compliance
- Develop departmental budgets and continuously monitor departmental spending to ensure that departments stay within budget throughout the fiscal quarter
- Attend board meetings, investor meetings and, occasionally, community meetings to represent the department or facility
- Liaise with staff, including heads of departments and hospital personnel
- Maintain accurate and up-to-date records of the department or facility
Typically, it’s the responsibility of healthcare administrators to handle staffing issues. However, at some facilities, this may fall under the list of clinical manager duties. For instance, managers may need to recruit, train and oversee the activities of staff members, and they may also be responsible for developing shift schedules. Note that at some facilities, healthcare administrators are also charged with keeping track of the budget, whereas at other facilities, managers may be responsible for this.
Where Do Clinical Managers Work?
The majority of health services managers work in local, state and private hospitals. Others work in physician offices, nursing homes, other residential care facilities and outpatient care centers. Some clinical manager duties include working for governmental organizations, such as Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics.
It’s common for clinical managers to work a standard 40-hour work week, which is another perk of choosing this particular type of healthcare career. Patient care providers, in contrast, often work irregular shifts. However, some healthcare settings, such as nursing homes, may require some evening or weekend work. In certain cases, clinical managers are expected to have on-call hours in case of emergencies.
Exploring Entry-Level Career Opportunities
Although it’s not a universal requirement, employers of clinical managers generally prefer to hire professionals who have at least a few years of work experience in the field, in addition to their academic credentials. Academic credentials can include obtaining a healthcare management degree. There are several options for entry-level positions in healthcare management and administration. Here’s a look at some of them:
- Healthcare administrative assistant: Within a healthcare setting, administrative assistants handle a variety of tasks, including answering the phones, scheduling appointments, liaising with insurance companies and checking in patients.
- Medical records and health information technician: These technicians typically spend their days at a computer, entering and managing patient information, using classification systems for insurance billing and maintaining patient histories.
- Financial clerk: At a hospital, the billing clerk is responsible for reviewing patient records to calculate charges and answering questions from patients about their bills.
Essential Skills and Traits for Executing Clinical Manager Duties
In order to effectively execute clinical manager duties, there are a few skills and characteristics that prove helpful. All clinical managers can benefit from knowing how to keep an eye on the “big picture.” Those who manage individual departments, for instance, must ensure that their departments’ objectives, vision and procedures are aligned with the overall agenda of the hospital.
However, attention to detail is also important, as health services managers must be able to oversee the daily operations of the department or clinic. Other essential skills and characteristics include the following:
- Analytical reasoning and critical thinking: Clinical managers must be able to understand new laws and regulations, and must know how to adjust the organization’s policies and procedures to align with new compliance requirements.
- Communication skills: Healthcare managers must be able to coordinate with other healthcare professionals from a range of backgrounds, including doctors, nurses and other administrative personnel.
- Leadership abilities: A competent health manager is someone who leads by example and embraces the qualities of servant leadership. These professionals must know how to inspire and motivate others to give their best effort.
- Technology competencies: Technology is increasingly important in the healthcare space, and management professionals must understand how to use these platforms and develop clear policies regarding healthcare IT.
Are Clinical Health Managers in Demand?
The health services management field is growing at a rapid pace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for medical and health services managers to increase by about 32% from 2019 to 2029 — much faster than average — accounting for an estimated increase of 133,200 jobs in the field.1
Much of that growth is attributable to the increased need for healthcare services for the aging population. Older adults require greater access to physicians and specialists, and that means that healthcare facilities will need more clinical managers to organize staff and oversee daily operations. Clinical managers with expertise in healthcare information technology are expected to be in particularly high demand.
If you would like to pursue a rewarding career in health services management, you can build a firm academic foundation at Grand Canyon University. In addition to our many undergraduate healthcare degrees, we are pleased to offer the Master of Public Administration with an Emphasis in Health Care Management degree program for aspiring clinical managers. Graduates emerge with strong competencies in ethical management and effective organizational management. Complete the "get started" form on this page to begin your journey at GCU.
1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on 2019, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical and Health Services Managers
Approved by an Instructor for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences on Nov. 18, 2022
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.