Healthcare Management vs. Healthcare Administration

Healthcare administrator speaking with doctor

When you consider the healthcare field, you might think of doctors, nurses and personal care assistants. However, there are many other opportunities in the field that do not involve direct patient care. Healthcare management and healthcare administration are both distinct roles in the healthcare industry. The responsibilities of healthcare managers and administrators differ between healthcare organizations and throughout the industry at large.

Healthcare Management

Healthcare managers oversee one specific department or area of the facility to align with the organization’s goals and policies. Management personnel manages all aspects of that specific department, such as the people and resources. For example, one hospital manager may work with the orthopedics department while another oversees the maternity wing. These administrators oversee the day-to-day operations of the department.

The specific responsibilities of managers can vary from one organization to the next. In some hospitals, managers are primarily concerned with staffing issues. They may focus on ensuring their department has enough qualified staff members on hand to meet the needs of patients. They may also work on matters related to professional development and continuing education for staff. They may also handle finances such as the department budget and expenditures.

Earning a Degree in Healthcare Management

To pursue healthcare or healthcare management, you can first earn your undergraduate degree in a healthcare-related field. This can help you to prepare yourself with foundational knowledge surrounding important topics in healthcare.

After your bachelor’s degree, it may be beneficial to pursue graduate-level studies by enrolling in an MBA with a focus in healthcare or health systems management. This program is a business degree with multiple courses that dive into health systems management concepts, such as healthcare policies, health systems finances and ethical issues in healthcare organizations. MBA students can expect a significant focus on business courses that cover topics such as managerial finance, accounting practices, operations management and leadership skills.

Healthcare Administration

A career in healthcare administration may appeal to “big picture” thinkers. Administration roles oversee the operations for entire facilities, including hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, physical rehabilitation clinics and nursing homes. While larger facilities may have a larger administrative staff with split responsibilities, healthcare administrators typically work to establish the mission and values of the organization.

Developing policies and procedures that support those values is a key part of this role. Healthcare administrators direct and oversee hospital managers to ensure proper implementation of the organization’s policies across the entire facility.

Earning a Degree in Healthcare Administration

To begin your education on your way to a career in healthcare management, consider enrolling in a healthcare administration bachelor’s program. In this program, you will be taught concepts and skills crucial to strategically managing a healthcare organization.

After completing your undergraduate degree, you may choose to go on to pursue your Master of Science in Health Administration degree. This advanced degree primarily focuses on the healthcare field through the lens of business-related topics. You can expect to study topics such as:

  • Healthcare policies and finances
  • Contemporary healthcare delivery models
  • Legal and ethical issues in healthcare
  • Healthcare research methods and application

Similarities and Differences Between Management and Administration

Both healthcare administration and management focus on ensuring a high standard of patient care and meeting the goals of the organization. To contribute effectively to their communities and improve the quality of patient care, administration and management must maintain a high degree of organization and develop effective policies.

Both healthcare management and healthcare administration degree options teach you important concepts of the business side of healthcare. These degrees can prepare you for careers within a healthcare organization working to better patient care and optimize organizational performance. Further developing your knowledge and continuing your education by earning a master’s degree in your area of interest can help prepare you for management-level positions within healthcare-related organizations.

Important Skills and Traits for Health Care Managers and Administrators

Professionals in both fields must possess certain skills and traits to help them in their respective roles. These include the following:

  • Leadership: All managers and administrators must exhibit ethical leadership to oversee their facilities or departments. Leaders actively listen to others, seek constructive criticism and consider input from staff. In addition, effective leadership in healthcare organizations centers on servant leadership.
  • Communication Skills: Clear verbal and written communication skills are essential for managers and administrators. Communicating how staff must operate to comply with policies, procedures and regulations is a crucial aspect of both roles. Professionals in either position may also be called upon to collaborate with community leaders and speak to members of the media.
  • Problem-Solving Capabilities: No industry or organization lacks challenges to its goals. In health care, administrators and managers must cope with problems that arise regarding various issues such as regulatory compliance, human resources issues and countless other potential obstacles. Problem-solving skills are crucial for these professionals.

Whether you have your sights set on a career in healthcare management or healthcare administration, you can get started working toward your future at Grand Canyon University. You can choose from several healthcare degree options that will offer you the opportunity to build the necessary skills and knowledge to make a positive impact in the lives of patients and healthcare staff members.

Explore our degree options such as: the Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration, Master of Science in Health Administration or the Master of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Health Systems Management. To learn more about these programs offered at GCU, fill out the form on this page.

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.