Once, in this country, hospitals were managed by physicians with an accountant responsible for the finances; but, early in the 20th century this model changed. Hospital administrators (actually better described as managers) became a part of the healthcare landscape. Most typically, in the early to mid-20th century, hospitals were overseen by nurses (usually called Superintendents) who oversaw all aspects of running a hospital. In 1934, the first health management program was established at the University of Chicago. Eventually, as hospitals began to grow into health systems and insurance and governmental regulations increased, the running of hospitals became more complex and required more specialized training. Today, we see these hospitals and health systems managed by Master of Business Administration or Master in Healthcare Management prepared professionals. More and more colleges and universities are specializing their MBA programs to include a concentration in healthcare.
At first thought, it would seem that there would be no difference between a healthcare manager and a healthcare administrator; but, there are differences, however slight. The matter is further muddled by universities and colleges who use the terms interchangeably and by smaller healthcare facilities which may combine the two functions, leading to further confusion. You may want to investigate both career fields and determine which profession you wish to pursue. Best Medical Degrees has published universities and colleges providing some of the most affordable online Master's in Healthcare Management programs and most affordable Bachelor's Degrees in Healthcare Management.
There are two types of administrators/managers: Generalists and Specialists. Think in terms of Healthcare Management as being general in nature and Healthcare Administration as having a more specific, defined role.
What Is Healthcare Management?
Healthcare Management, simply, is the general management of healthcare facilities and pertinent business issues, while leaving the administration and operation of staff and personnel to healthcare administrators. The function of the manager is to facilitate the running of healthcare facilities, including policy development and compliance, accounting and facilities management. Experiences, or education, in basic business theories such as statistics, finance, organizational behavior and marketing strategies are helpful in being a successful manager. Training in healthcare issues such as ethics, healthcare law and policies, healthcare informatics and interpersonal communication, serves as a bedrock for the successful management of a healthcare organization.
What Is Healthcare Administration?
Healthcare Administrators are specifically interested in the running and operation of particular areas of hospital services, such as departments, finance or accounting, policy decisions, marketing and/or personnel management. Healthcare administrators are considered to be healthcare professionals; and, it's not unusual to find administrators to have careers as physicians, nurses, public health officials or other previous healthcare careers.
Which Career Do I Want?
Of course, that depends entirely on what your career goals may be. If you want a profession leading a hospital, clinic, long-term care facility or private practice as a business career, Healthcare Management education would be a good choice. If you are interested in administering quality patient care services, overseeing clinical personnel and evidence based practice policies, the role of Healthcare Administrator would be something to explore.