No MD Required to Earn MBA in Health Care Management
America’s health care industry is facing two major shortages: providers,1 and leadership.2
As more families and individuals receive insurance coverage, the demand for health services is on the rise. At the same time, the aging of the Baby Boomer population is creating a huge long-term patient population. These are patients with multiple, chronic conditions who are living longer and longer, and require more and more health services as a result. This all puts a great deal of strain on health care providers like doctors and nurses.
While providers may be the face of health care, they are not the only critical element for meeting the new and growing demand for care. Health care organizations of any size require administrators, managers, consultants, and all manner of specialists who keep things running behind the scenes so patients can get the care they need.2
At the end of the day, health care services may be a necessity, but delivering them to patients is still a business, and requires business-minded professionals to run smoothly and keep up with demand, technological change, and human resource challenges like the provider shortage. Fortunately, it doesn’t always take a medical degree to fill these roles, and a focused training program like Marylhurst University’s online MBA in Health Care Management can prepare the leaders needed to fill them.
The Hospital Leadership Challenge
Health care organizations comprise many different teams: nurses, primary care physicians, lab technicians, specialists–as well as billing and collections departments, information technology staff, informatics and data management, even gift shops. No matter the role, all these teams require effective leadership to perform, work together, and make sure that every process, system, and individual is accounted for.
Obviously, some of these roles do involve clinical elements–nurse leaders naturally require nursing experience, and medical officers typically possess an MD. But there are plenty of other important leadership roles in a hospital or clinic that don’t involve practicing medicine, or require a medical background. Given the dual strain on human resources on the clinical and administrative sides, it is nearly impossible to staff every leadership role with someone possessing a clinical background–and that may actually be for the best.
Medical professionals are dedicated, focused, and constantly working to stay up to date on medical research, breakthroughs in treatments, and ever-changing standards, best practices, and of course, clinical technology. One skill set that often gets left out of all this constant learning and training is organizational: how to lead, manage, and maintain a complex system like a hospital.3 Someone prepared to perform brain surgery may not have any inclination or experience in dealing with government bureaucrats, insurance companies, or preparing an operational budget all while managing a large group of practitioners.4
The principles of business management are rarely featured in a medical school curriculum, in order for doctors to be doctors, they require skilled managers to handle many of the non-clinical elements of the organization.3
Adapting and Problem-Solving
Change-management is a driving force throughout the management world, and health care management is no exception.
Health care organizations are facing dramatic changes beyond surges in demand. Technological advances are changing everything from bedside care to the daily workflow of doctors; wearables and digital records are creating a storm of new clinical data that requires security as well as organization; the way doctors and hospitals are paid by insurers and the state and federal government is undergoing a fundamental disruption; patients are becoming more involved in every aspect of their care, from where they go for treatment to how their health records are shared.
Health care is at the center of a social, political, and digital storm. The resulting changes are complex, sometimes controversial, and almost always expensive. Health care administrators are charged with handling these drivers of change, and enabling clinical professionals to continue their work even as the systems transform around them. Simply put, demand is projected to stay high for some time–health care management careers are expected to grow more than 16 percent over the next 10 years, well above the average for other careers.5
The challenges faced by the health care industry may be unique, but the skills they require are largely similar as those needed by managers in other sectors. Communication, working with diverse teams, the ability to create a shared vision and guide others toward its realization–all the features of a great leader are also present in great health care leaders.5 That means experience gained outside the health care industry can still be valuable to hospitals and clinical organizations.
An MBA in Health Care Management can focus the experience, passion, and skill of professionals with a diversity of backgrounds and prepare them guide American health care into the future.