When you enjoy the fields of healthcare and business, it is an easy transition to go for your master’s in an area that combines both of your passions. Some people end up looking into healthcare administration, while others search for healthcare management, thinking they are the same thing. In fact, they have subtle nuances that make them entirely different fields.

The basic definitions of each are that healthcare administration is the field in which the overall staffing and concerns are taken care of, while healthcare management is where the organization of healthcare takes place.

Imagine an umbrella where healthcare management is the material that covers everything when you open it, and the administration is the pole that keeps the material upright and strong. Both aspects are crucial to the umbrella doing its job, just as both are necessary for a healthcare organization to run smoothly.

Amidst these two minor differences are a wide array of variations in the education and necessary experience required to get your master’s in either field.

If you are still not sure which direction you want to go towards, read on for more clarification about healthcare administration versus healthcare management.

An overview of healthcare administration

Someone who goes into the field of healthcare administration will be learning about how to handle the staff necessary to provide for his or her employer and the patients that they provide care for. To this end, much of the education in healthcare administration is based on learning about methods and strategies to be able to best use the staff available.

When you have a master’s in healthcare administration, you can expect to find careers in the leadership sector of hospitals and laboratories, government agencies, and independently owned doctors’ offices.

An overview of healthcare management

Healthcare management, on the other hand, takes into consideration more of the business aspects that pertain to policies and procedures, the accounting needs, and managing the facility as a whole. Because of the high focus on running the business, it is often recommended that someone looking into healthcare management also has a firm understanding of accounting.

Obtaining your master’s in healthcare management means that ultimately you will be able to work in a career in which you are in charge of how smoothly your facility runs, while the daily management of the staff falls to the healthcare administrator. Similar to the healthcare administrator, you will be able to work in hospitals or labs, government agencies, and independently owned doctors’ offices.

Healthcare Administration vs. Healthcare Management Master’s Degrees

When you research the key differences between these two degrees, you will find that a healthcare manager is usually required to have an educational background in healthcare management as well as some experience with finances and accounting.

Leadership is important in both areas, but healthcare administrators need to be competent in managing staff and understanding how to bring out the best in individuals to utilize the staff on hand to the maximum ability. Healthcare managers and administrators both should have overall management training.

In a healthcare administration master’s degree, you will be expected to take certain core courses that pertain to leadership, economics, accounting, medical law, health information systems, human behavior, and issues in the healthcare industry.

However, there are multiple areas of specialization and you will have more coursework depending on your specialized area. In some programs, you must write a master’s dissertation with original research that is related to your area of specialization.

Healthcare management, however, is considered a specialty area in the business field. Because of this, your core classes will be added to the requirements of business classes that business majors take.

Additionally, you will receive the basic, necessary courses in healthcare management, like data management and patient care, science such as human anatomy, and certain electives.

Overall, those obtaining their master’s in healthcare management will focus on careers that help the business aspects of the organization they are working for, while those going into healthcare administration will focus on being able to run the day-to-day aspects such as staff, scheduling, and budgeting in their department.

Healthcare administration vs. healthcare management salaries

Another difference in these two fields falls in the salary expectations that come with each degree. However, there is not a lot of discrepancy in these degrees provided you obtain your master’s.

The average salary across the United States for both of these degrees is approximately $75,000 per year. Some positions, such as a Director of Operations, can net you over $100,000. Others, like an Operations Manager or Healthcare Administrator, begin at slightly below the average salary, at $68,000.

Your expected salary will depend on the position you are filling, the area where you are working, and your experience in the field. A master’s degree in either area, though, will usually help you receive more than $20,000 annually over the same path with just a bachelor’s degree, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Which field is right for you?

Going into the healthcare administrative field blindly usually ends up causing many students to realize they are in the wrong degree program quickly. This results in time and money wasted while they have to reverse their course and enroll in the right program.

A little research and a good guide can help you determine which field is the one that fits your passions and talents best. Whichever direction that you go, the healthcare industry needs people like you who are ready, willing and able to get the education necessary to make a difference in patient care.

Works cited:

“Average Healthcare Risk Management Manager Salary.” Payscale (n.d.) Retrieved October 23, 2018, from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Healthcare_Risk_Management_Manager/Salary.

“Master of Health Administration (MHA), Health Care Administration Degree.” Payscale (n.d.) Retrieved October 23, 2018, from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Health_Administration_(MHA)%2C_Health_Care_Administration/Salary.

“Should I get a master’s degree?” Elka Torpey and Dalton Terrell (September 2015). Received October 24, 2018, from https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm#Healthcare%20and%20social%20service.

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