Reasons to Pursue an Online Doctorate in Healthcare Management
Prospective healthcare management students each have their own reasons for pursuing a doctorate; however, there are a few common reasons people decide to enroll in advanced programs. The following list outlines why students may want to pursue an advanced degree.
The leadership skills and advanced training obtained in a doctoral program enable graduates to access some of the top positions available in the industry, like executive and director positions.
Salary increases represent one of the biggest benefits of career advancement. Like industry experience, advanced degrees often allow professionals to earn significantly higher salaries.
While undergraduate degrees provide more general and comprehensive training, advanced degrees — like a doctorate — allow students to focus their training on an area of interest. Professionally, specializations can grant access to niche sections of the industry.
The academic experience gained from a doctoral program helps graduates qualify for careers in academia. Aspiring teachers often seek out programs with thesis or research requirements, as opposed to more professional or clinical options, in order to better prepare for a career as a scholar.
The heavy research focus of an online doctorate in healthcare management allows graduates to pursue careers in research. This allows professionals to contribute to growth and development in the field.
What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Healthcare Management?
Earning a doctorate in healthcare management online enables graduates to pursue a variety of career paths. Graduates can widen or narrow that path with their educational decisions. The type of degree chosen, for example, can lead graduates down different routes. For example, individuals who earn a Ph.D. in healthcare management online typically pursue a research or academic career.
Conversely, students who earn a doctor of business administration (DBA) in healthcare management often take positions in healthcare offices, medical centers, and health-related organizations. These students can often choose concentrations to open up healthcare subfields. While the job titles and descriptions differ depending on a worker's employer and state, professionals with a DBA typically oversee their healthcare organization's operations. They may handle staffing needs, improve services, and oversee regulations and policies.
Common Career Paths and Salaries
Despite the variety of career options available, many graduates who earn a doctorate in healthcare management online tend to pursue some common careers. Though the titles may change between employers, the following list highlights some of the most popular options available.
- Health Services Manager
These professionals manage healthcare facilities, overseeing operations, finances, and services. The majority of these managers work in hospital services, nursing care facilities, and physicians' offices.
Median Annual Salary: $99,700
- Director of Health Services
Directors of health services take charge of the operations and environment of various health centers and departments. While many employers seek experienced candidates, advanced degrees may also qualify professionals for these positions.
Median Annual Salary: $77,000
- Hospital Director
Hospital directors oversee the daily operations of a hospital or department within a hospital. They ensure the staff and budgets function as efficiently as possible.
Median Annual Salary: $91,000
- Physician Practice Director
Physician practice directors manage the operations of a physician's office, taking care of staffing and financing. These directors may also work with policies and regulations to ensure the practice follows necessary guidelines.
Median Annual Salary: $74,000
- Postsecondary Teacher
Postsecondary teachers work in colleges and universities, teaching students in a discipline related to their specialty. These teachers may also work on their own research and produce publications.
Median Annual Salary: $97,370
Healthcare Management Doctoral Program Requirements and Outcomes
The details of a healthcare management doctorate can vary significantly depending on the school and degree type. Typically, Ph.D. programs feature less credits but take longer to complete than DBA programs. Students often complete clinical-based doctorates in 4-5 years, taking between 60-75 credits. Alternatively, learners who earn a Ph.D. in healthcare management online often take 5-7 years to complete 50-60 credits. The major difference between these two degrees is a Ph.D. typically requires a dissertation, while a DBA may include more clinical work.
Online students can pursue both degree types, but certain elements of each program may require campus visits or in-person components. The Ph.D., for example, may require learners to defend their dissertation in person. Meanwhile, clinical doctorates may feature in-person practica. However, students can usually complete these requirements at a location near their homes. For admission, applicants typically need a master's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Ph.D. candidates may also need to submit a research proposal.
The courses included in a doctoral program depend on a variety of factors, but healthcare management programs typically include similar core courses. While the names may vary slightly, the following list outlines some of the courses students can expect to take in their doctoral program.
In this course, students learn the various leadership strategies to help them oversee healthcare services. Coursework covers common technologies, applications, and day-to-day processes, teaching students to understand and help manage daily operations. This training prepares graduates for management and leadership careers at different healthcare service providers.
This course helps learners apply research to a clinical setting. This training enables students to understand the processes involved in practice-based research, including identifying research that best supports the industry and professionals. This training is especially important for potential researchers, academics, and clinical professionals.
This course offers training in healthcare-related public relations. Students acquire the industry-specific marketing and PR skills necessary to take charge of the communication requirements at various healthcare centers. Aspiring healthcare managers and practice directors benefit from this training.
This course delves into public health, disease, and care services on a global scale. Students learn about healthcare challenges faced around the world and the differences in care in different regions. This training can prove useful for researchers, academics, and healthcare directors and managers.
This course explores various healthcare operations and their quality, looking at movements and initiatives for improvement. Students learn the processes and practices involved in upgrading quality. This training may be invaluable for aspiring managers and directors of healthcare centers.
While coursework makes up a significant portion of a healthcare administration doctoral program, students must also complete other components to graduate. The following elements represent additional requirements students may need to complete prior to graduation.
For many doctoral programs — specifically Ph.D. programs — a dissertation represents one of the most important degree components. These in-depth projects allow students to develop a specialization while demonstrating their research and academic skills. They often comprise two years of study and take place during the latter half of the program.
While a research project can coincide with a dissertation, these projects often take the place of a dissertation in a non-Ph.D. doctoral program. This in-depth research reinforces practical skills, but typically requires much less time to complete than a dissertation.
Internship requirements appear more often in clinical-based doctoral programs. These allow students to gain hands-on experience, giving them a space to put research into practice and develop a familiarity with the profession.
Skills and Competencies
Depending on the program and degree track, students acquire a variety of skills and competencies while completing healthcare management programs. The following list covers some of the primary skills learners can look forward to gaining.
Through leadership training, graduates learn to motivate and train staff, oversee operations, and manage the daily tasks of various healthcare centers. Students also learn to evaluate and assess operations and employees.
Graduates often gain strong communication skills in these programs. They acquire writing, active listening, speaking, and interpersonal skills to increase their management and leadership abilities.
The technical skills gained in these programs vary depending on individual student choices. Learners typically acquire experience with different medical and healthcare software and applications.
Many doctoral programs provide research experience and skills. Learners gain the ability to conduct in-depth research, follow ethical guidelines, and apply research in practical settings.
To manage and maintain all of the minor details in large and complex operations, graduates often need to embrace a detail-oriented mindset. These skills enable them to oversee staffing, budgets, and health records as needed.
Healthcare management professionals require analytical skills to thrive in their career. Directors and managers must ensure their offices, practices, and departments follow proper procedures, laws, and policies. The task of understanding these guidelines and making the operational changes necessary to conform to them often falls on management.
Healthcare Management Professional Organizations
Professional organizations are helpful resources for individuals at various stages of their careers. These associations often unite professionals from the same career and advocate for the industry. Experienced professionals can gain access to industry events, continuing education opportunities, and leadership workshops.
Students and new graduates can also benefit from membership. As soon as students choose their profession, they should explore the associations that represent their intended field. Students can gain access to scholarship opportunities and useful publications, along with career assistance and mentor opportunities when they graduate. The following list outlines popular organizations in the industry.
AAHAM supports the administrative management field through professional advocacy, education, and regulatory monitoring. The association strives to improve care delivery by ensuring more effective administration.
AHIMA represents health information managers through advocacy programs and by hosting a variety of resources. Members gain access to industry events, training programs, certification, and career services.
Dedicated to improving healthcare delivery and making it more accessible for everyone, ACHE supports industry leaders through training and educational programs, career support services, and networking opportunities.
HFMA represents financial professionals in the healthcare industry by driving industry initiatives, supporting career development opportunities, and delivering community events. Members also gain access to industry information and news.
Striving to improve patient access to healthcare, NAHAM promotes best practices, improved education and training for professionals, and networking for mentoring and information sharing.