What is The Difference Between a Human Services Degree and a Healthcare Management Degree?

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Human services and healthcare management degree programs are similar, and graduates with a human services degree could be considered for positions in healthcare management. Healthcare management degrees, however, are designed to specifically address the theory and practical application of managing and handling healthcare delivery specifically, while human services degrees prepare graduates to take on a more client-centered, advocacy approach to several different types of care.

Human Services Overview

In the field of human services, specialists identify problems, find solutions, and aid in prevention of issues within a determined service population base. Human services organizations and departments try to not only improve the systems of care within a community, but also to make improvements in accessibility and coordination of care. A human services representative works to assist clients with getting the services a client needs. Common human services agency include those that are extensions of the government, such as social welfare and education services. In addition to government agencies, many non-profit organizations operate human services programs or oversee human services projects or departments. Human services professionals are also utilized in mental health services as well as some categories of medical care. Some of the job positions that a human services degree can prepare graduating students for include advocates for the elderly or for children, social services workers, court and family advocate, grant writer, counselor, program director, patient liaison, and eligibility specialist. Human services specialists work in various settings, including non-profit organizations, government agencies, and healthcare facilities.

Healthcare Management Overview

Students who earn a degree in healthcare management will gain similar skills and knowledge as the students enrolled in human services programs. In healthcare management, personnel focus on the coordination, directing, and planning of health and medical services. Healthcare managers also work in physician’s offices, group healthcare practices, and nursing home and hospice facilities. The focus can be on managing a particular area or department, or a healthcare manager could manage an entire facility. While human services specialists work with closely with clients to ensure quality and satisfactory delivery of various types of care, healthcare management personnel work at the other end of the care spectrum, working closely with caregivers and support staff to deliver high quality healthcare as healthcare managers, executives, or administrators.

Differences in Education

Several of the courses that will be taken while pursuing each respective degree are similar or exactly the same. Human services and healthcare management students might enroll in community healthcare, financial management, or emergency management. Other required courses that could be similar depending on the program are accounting, behavioral science, and interpersonal communication. In most healthcare management programs, however, these courses would fall into the elective category, with the required courses including specific classes designed to specifically address issues in healthcare management, such as healthcare informatics and legal issues in healthcare management. Human service is a relatively new degree program, but an increasing number of students are enrolling in the major as more employers recognize the value of the degree. Courses in human services programs include required courses such as crisis intervention, client advocacy, developmental disabilities introduction, domestic violence, health skills, and introduction to addictions.
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