Postgraduate (MSc & MA) Programmes in Healthcare Management
Find the perfect programme
• new medical technologies
• ageing populations and longer life expectancy
• limits to government spending
• immigrants’ uncertain access to healthcare
• increased number of obese people – along with the diseases of obesity (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc)
• increasingly complex pattern of payers
• increased patient knowledge (due in part to proliferation of information on the Web).
• increased patient demands for rapid, highest-quality care
Choosing a master’s programme
Most healthcare master’s programmes are one year in length but otherwise differ in many ways. Some are orientated toward administration; others toward policy. Their institutional settings also vary: healthcare master’s programmes can be offered in business schools, public administration schools, or schools of health (or human ecology). Some courses are meant for those entirely new to the field; others for those already trained in one medical field or another. Few programmes are designed to be all things to all people (and of those that are, even fewer succeed). Thus, it is critical you know what focus will best suit your needs.
Also keep in mind that healthcare is provided and paid for in dramatically different ways in different countries. Therefore, an excellent programme regarding healthcare finance could be nearly useless for you if it focuses on a payment regime largely unrelated to the one you will face in practice. For this reason, most healthcare degree programmes are local in focus.
The prerequisites vary according to the type of institution offering the programme and its intended audience. For instance, some programmes are aimed at those who already have some type of medical or nursing degree. Many programmes that allow or require specialisation also demand relevant coursework for your chosen speciality. Thus, if you intend to focus on information systems management in health service organisations, you may well need to meet typical IT requirements for programming ability and the like.
Many programmes also look for:
• coursework in accounting and statistics
• demonstrated interest in the profession
• some clinical background.
Healthcare is an extremely large, complex field. As such, it attracts entrants with a healthcare focus and others with a functional focus outside of healthcare. Healthcare managers come from a stunningly wide range of educational and professional backgrounds. For instance, some will be products of healthcare programmes at business schools, others of healthcare programmes at public administration schools, and so on. Similarly, managers will come to healthcare from their backgrounds in financial management, management of information systems, etc.
The trends cited above make it clear that healthcare will take a growing share of most nations’ (growing) economies. This will drive a continuing increase in demand for skilled professionals into the foreseeable future and beyond.
Typical job titles
• Healthcare manager
• Financial manager
• Clinical manager
• Marketing analyst
• Hospital administrator
• Assisted living supervisor
• Quality analyst
• Healthcare policy analyst
• Health education manager
Professional associations (UK and US)
Healthcare management differs greatly from one country to another. The economic, managerial, and political environments vary so greatly that someone starting out in the field would do well to focus initially on readings keyed to his or her chosen country. One exception is provided by Angela Coulter and Chris Ham, editors, The Global Challenge of Healthcare Rationing (Open University Press), which takes an interesting look at aspects of healthcare around the world.
Alison Morton-Cooper and Margaret Bamford, Excellence in Healthcare Management (Blackwell), covers key issues in human resource, finance, information, training, and quality management, as well as the political aspects of healthcare. A suitable alternative is provided by Carolyn Semple Piggot, Business Planning for Healthcare Management (Open University Press).
The Health Administration Press, which publishes widely in this field, has excerpted chapters from various of its publications to provide a helpful introduction to financial, marketing, human resource, and strategic management in Back to Basics: Foundations of Healthcare Management.
Those looking for a cross-cultural look at the field should consult Angela Coulter and Chris Ham, editors, The Global Challenge of Healthcare Rationing (Open University Press).
Closely related fields
Healthcare managers can benefit from the full range of managerial subjects, ranging from human resource management and MIS to accounting and finance. See the discussions of each of these fields for further information.
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