In medical career terminology, there are specific terms that are often used interchangeably. And while plenty of career fields have terms that people tend to mix up (for example, criminology and criminal justice), in the medical career field, interchanging can have consequences. Medical career terminology seems to be more confusing than most – probably because the average person, or student who wants a career in healthcare, simply doesn’t have enough knowledge. Two commonly interchanged terms in the healthcare field are healthcare management and healthcare administration.
Confusion Between Healthcare Management and Healthcare Administration
It’s easy to see where the confusion comes from. After all, healthcare management and health administration positions seem to require the same type of education and work skills, and the professionals in the field might appear to do the same job. In fact, even some colleges and universities seem to use the terms interchangeably when describing courses they offer in the realm of healthcare.
Avoid Colleges That Use The Terms Interchangeably
One option is to avoid colleges that use the two terms interchangeably because your education might lack in proper preparation for working in the field. This is because healthcare administration and healthcare management are two very different jobs and professionals in both fields have specific tasks. These tasks, depending on where the professionals work, hospitals, private practices, or other, might overlap, and a healthcare manager might do some of the tasks a healthcare administrator would do.
These Professionals Require Different Training and Education
While the professions are similar, professionals in each filed need to receive different types of education, training, and need to complete different professional requirements. Some of these differences can have a great effect, especially if a healthcare administrator is hired as a healthcare manager by mistake, and vice versa. Below, we have described the similarities of the two positions, as well as the differences, to help universities and colleges prepare their students better for these positions in the future, and thus help improve the medical field offer better services to the patients.
While every healthcare facility will adapt job titles and responsibilities to their own unique needs, the following information is a good general guide for the distinctions between healthcare management and healthcare administration.
Similarities between Healthcare Administration and Healthcare Management
Often, the people who work in a healthcare facility in the administrative section are considered to work under the occupational umbrella of “Medical and Health Services Managers.” This miscomprehension is completely understandable because the professionals who work in the administrative healthcare field do work mostly in hospitals and private physician offices.
Their tasks include overseeing similar administrative or management tasks, like assigning work schedules, maintaining records, improving upon the work environment of larger hospitals and their functionality, as well as taking care of billing the patients according to their health insurance accounts.
This means that both professions are primarily non-medical and professionals in both fields need education and training that will prepare them to take care of a medical facility’s daily operations. Additionally, healthcare administrators and healthcare managers have similar salaries and general duties, a fact that augments the confusion between these two professions even more.
Why differentiating between the professions is difficult
Both healthcare managers and healthcare administrators work in healthcare administration in larger healthcare facilities like hospitals and private practices.
However, there is a general difference between the two professions – healthcare management runs the healthcare facility as a whole, while healthcare administration usually handles everything regarding the various staff that works there: doctors, surgeons, specialists, nurses, etc.
Generally speaking, healthcare administration creates the working schedules among other duties, so their tasks have a direct effect on the staff, which in turn affects the overall functionality of the healthcare facility, which falls under the healthcare management’s authority. Aspiring professionals in both fields must understand the difference before starting their career because if a healthcare administrator wrongly starts a career in healthcare management, they might reach an obstacle that their education and training doesn’t allow them to cross, and they might need to begin their career anew.
Both healthcare management and healthcare administration have specific subdivisions that focus on different areas of running a healthcare facility, and to further specialize in careers, new students and recent graduates in both professions need to pay close attention at their qualifications and education to get it right. Below, we have presented both professions separately to help differentiate between healthcare administration and healthcare management.
Tasks and Education of a Healthcare Management Professional
Healthcare management professionals have tasks that refer to managing the business aspect of a healthcare facility. In the healthcare industry, healthcare management professionals need to have at least an MBA in Healthcare Management. They also have additional tasks regarding running these facilities, and as such, healthcare management is a field that is constantly growing and needs more employees, as more and more facilities want and need professionals in this field who will manage their daily operations.
MBA in Healthcare Management
Getting an MBA in this field can give you an edge as students will be studying courses that focus on healthcare business, patient care standards, organizational policies, and budget management. The MBA ensures the graduates have the right backgrounds to complete these tasks, and that they have enough knowledge to ensure that any facility they work in will benefit from their vast education.
Where Professionals in Healthcare Management Work
Professionals in Healthcare Management can work in different settings, depending on their educational background and experience, including:
- rehabilitation centers
- health insurance organizations
- mental health organizations and facilities
- other research institutions
- nursing homes
- private practices
Common entry-level positions within these facilities are marketing and public affairs, medical staff relations, nursing administration, patient care services, and human resources at larger facilities.
Healthcare Administration Professionals and Their Tasks
Now let’s look at what a healthcare administration professional does and what education they usually need.
Healthcare Administration Training and Education
Healthcare Administration professionals take care of tasks that refer to the management of staff related to a particular healthcare department. Healthcare administrators need to attend courses that are designed to help them learn how to deal with the dynamic work environment of a healthcare facility.
They need great analytical and decisions making skills. Their tasks include supporting and encouraging employees, create employees’ work schedules, provide compassionate and expert care to patients as well as to their families, manage finances and make sure the facility meets regulatory requirements according to various standards.
Healthcare Administration Tasks and Responsibilities
Healthcare administrators can specialize in public health, business or other administrative areas – where they don’t have direct contact with patients, but there are various positions where a healthcare administrator needs to take care of a patient and their finances and bills. This is why healthcare administrators need to have finance handling skills. They also need to make sure to create teams of staff that will know how to handle a working environment that is constantly changing.
Healthcare administrators have several options when it comes to careers. They can work as community relations managers, as directors of healthcare services, in-home healthcare, operations management, healthcare management services, and other various healthcare facilities.
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More Information about the Nursing Profession
As you keep learning about all the jobs you could get as a nurse, here are some more articles to read through and consider too.
- Where a Master of Health Administration Can Take You
- What Defines a Nurse Manager or Leader
- Five Exciting Careers for MSN Graduates