Doctorate in Healthcare Management Program Guide

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June 8, 2021

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A doctorate in healthcare management leads to some of the most advanced positions in the medical industry, including medical services management, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) names among the nation's fastest growing fields. Additionally, these graduates can pursue teaching careers and many other management occupations.

This advanced degree puts professionals in positions where they can impact healthcare policies and practices. Graduates also qualify for leadership positions in major medical facilities and the significant financial rewards that usually accompany them. In this guide, readers can find in-depth information on doctoral degrees in healthcare management, program considerations, and possible career pathways.

Should I Get a Doctorate in Healthcare Management?

A doctorate in healthcare management typically attracts students who want to contribute to the healthcare system from an organizational and structural standpoint. While the road to graduation can take 3-7 years, graduates get rewarded with in-demand and high-paying careers. The BLS projects 32% job growth for medical and health services managers between 2019 and 2029, eight times faster than the average rate for all occupations.

While the road to graduation can take 3-7 years, graduates get rewarded with in-demand and high-paying careers.

Many healthcare management employers seek candidates with professional experience, which often leads to learners holding jobs while they study. Some employers may require more specialized training for employment, possibly resulting in additional education after graduation.

Many healthcare management professionals continue their training after they finish school. Continuing education keeps their skills updated and maintains the various certifications and licenses they hold. Though not always required, additional credentials can provide professionals with a further competitive advantage.

What Can I Expect from a Doctorate in Healthcare Management Program?

Prospective students typically choose from two types of doctoral degrees in healthcare management: a Ph.D. and a doctorate in health administration (DHA). While both degrees provide extensive research and leadership skills, the Ph.D. focuses on academic applications, while the DHA focuses on practical field applications.

Ph.D. students enjoy plenty of curriculum flexibility, choosing courses that complement their individual research interests. DHA programs feature more structure, including courses in leadership, advanced business strategies, advocacy, and public policy.

Graduates with either type of doctorate in healthcare management can pursue similar careers, though a Ph.D. often leads to teaching jobs and a DHA usually leads to management and consulting jobs.

Concentrations

Health Policy

This concentration asks students to analyze public health policy, looking for areas of need, improvements, and problems. They examine the research that informs specific policies, the processes of change, and the institutions involved with establishing them.

Healthcare Leadership

Healthcare leadership concentrations teach students problem-solving, project management, and community influence skills. Coursework examines organizational strategy, policy analysis, and facilities and administration management.

Healthcare Education

Healthcare education concentrations focus on research, instruction, and curriculum-building skills. Coursework prepares graduates for careers in colleges and universities, continuing education programs, and healthcare leadership positions.

Informatics

Informatics concentrations teach students how to use and protect healthcare information more effectively. Coursework also delves into patient data technologies, storage, and improvements to the health information system.

Bioethics

Bioethics concentrations examine the intersection of health policy and ethics, specifically in regards to healthy living, infectious disease control, immunizations, and public health initiatives. Additional areas of interest may include emergency preparedness, research ethics, resource allocation, and social justice issues.

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How to Choose a Healthcare Management Doctorate Program

Picking the right doctorate in healthcare management requires prospective students to consider their professional goals and interests. They also need to ensure their program holds the appropriate accreditations, offers the right type of degree, and features the necessary courses and concentrations. Prospective learners should look at program delivery methods and residency requirements.

Programmatic Accreditation for Doctorate in Healthcare Management Programs

Prospective students should look for both regional accreditation and programmatic accreditation when choosing a doctorate in healthcare management. Regional accreditation depends on the school location, but programmatic accreditation should come from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education. Accreditation can impact a student's funding, licensure, and employment opportunities.

How to Get Into a Healthcare Management Doctorate Program

Admission requirements for a doctorate in healthcare management depend on various factors, but most programs require a master's degree in a related subject. Other typical requirements may include recommendation letters and GRE or GMAT scores. Some programs may require a minimum 3.0 GPA and specific test scores.

Requirements may also vary by degree type. Some Ph.D. programs, for example, require prospective students to submit a statement of interest or research proposal, whereas DHA programs may require professional experience. Applicants may also need to complete an interview process with the selection committee.

What Can I Do With a Doctorate in Healthcare Management?

A doctorate in healthcare management can lead to careers in healthcare administration, healthcare management, research and academia, or even business. Graduates can change public policies, lead healthcare facilities, improve patient care and outcomes, and teach the next generation of healthcare managers.

For most graduates, the healthcare management field looks very promising. The BLS projects the addition of more than 130,000 healthcare managers between 2019 and 2029, and the median annual salary for these professionals more than doubles the median annual salary for all occupations.

Below are some of the most common career pathways for graduates with a doctorate in healthcare management.

Popular Career Paths

Healthcare Administration Health Services Higher Education Health Informatics Public Health

How Much Money Can I Make With a Doctorate in Healthcare Management?

While salaries vary by field and employer, most professionals with a doctorate in healthcare management earn lucrative wages. For example, postsecondary teachers earn median annual wages of $80,790 and healthcare managers make $104,280 per year, according to the BLS. The top 10% of earners in each field make more than $180,000 and $195,000 per year, respectively.

Certifications and Licenses a Doctorate in Healthcare Management Prepares For

Nursing Home Administrator

Nursing home administrators need licensure from the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards for employment. Requirements vary by state, but most require a bachelor's degree. Candidates usually need to complete a state examination as well.

Certified Medical Manager

The certified medical manager credential from the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management recognizes qualified administrative managers in various healthcare fields. Candidates need at least 12 credits of postsecondary training and two years of professional experience. The examination tests professionals on the fundamentals of medical practice administration.

HIMA Certifications

The American Health Information Management Association offers several certifications for healthcare professionals. Requirements vary for each credential, but most require a bachelor's degree. Candidates must pass an examination, and some certifications must be completed in sequence.

Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems

Offered by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, the CPHIMS demonstrates expertise with information management systems. Requirements include a master's degree and at least two years of relevant healthcare experience. Candidates must pass an examination.

Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives

This certification demonstrates leadership qualities and healthcare management expertise. Eligibility requirements include a master's degree and at least five years of relevant experience. All candidates must pass an examination.

Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate in Healthcare Management Programs

How much does it cost to get a doctorate in healthcare management?

The cost of a doctorate in healthcare management varies by program. According to U.S. News & World Report, program tuition can range from $29,000-$76,000, with each credit costing $531-$1,000.

Is a doctorate in healthcare management worth it?

A doctorate in healthcare management provides plenty of value for students with varying career goals. This degree can lead to rewarding careers in various industries, including education, healthcare, and business management. Prospective students can compare their pre-doctoral and post-doctoral degree salaries for an approximate return on investment.

How much can you make with a Ph.D. in healthcare management?

Salaries available to professionals with a doctorate in healthcare management depend on many factors. According to the BLS, medical and health services managers earn a median annual wage of $104,280. In the government and hospitals, these professionals make a median annual salary of over $112,000.

What can you do with a doctorate in healthcare management?

Professionals with an online doctorate in healthcare management often work as postsecondary teachers or healthcare managers. In the healthcare management field, 33% of managers work in hospitals, 12% work in physician's offices, 10% work in nursing care facilities, and 8% work for the government.

What is the difference between a doctorate in healthcare management and a doctorate in healthcare administration?

While these two degrees may overlap in many areas, a doctorate in healthcare management focuses on the overall direction of the healthcare field and health organizations. Coursework explores healthcare leadership and policies. Conversely, the administration discipline examines specific administration processes, such as budgeting and healthcare records.

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