PhD in Healthcare Management

Who Gets One & What to Expect

Pursuing a graduate degree presents challenges, but earning a doctorate in healthcare management online also offers great personal and professional benefits to degree-holders. Graduates can use this degree to specialize in the healthcare industry, while also learning the research skills necessary to work in academia or research and development. While bachelor's and master's degrees in healthcare management allow graduates to find careers in a variety of professions, doctoral degree-holders gain easier access to the top management and leadership positions.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and healthcare management professions are projected to grow nearly three times faster than the average occupation in the U.S. between 2016 and 2026. The aging population contributes to this demand, and the improved technology and shift from hospitals to practitioner offices should also increase the need for management professionals. The following information provides more details about earning a doctorate in healthcare management online, as well as the many career options for graduates.

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.

Career Advancement

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

Salary increases represent one of the biggest benefits of career advancement. Like industry experience, advanced degrees often allow professionals to earn significantly higher salaries.

Professional Specialization

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.

Access to Academia

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.

Research and Development

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

Source: PayScale; BLS

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.

Common Courses

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.

Health Leadership

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.

Application of Practice-based Research

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.

Public Relations in Healthcare

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.

Global Health Issues

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.

Healthcare Quality Management

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.

Other Requirements

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.

Dissertation

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.

Research Project

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

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.

Leadership

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.

Communication

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.

Technical Skills

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.

Research

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.

Detail-oriented

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.

Analytical Skills

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.

American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management

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.



American Health Information Management Association

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.



American College of Healthcare Executives

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.



Healthcare Financial Management Association

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.



National Association of Healthcare Access Management

Striving to improve patient access to healthcare, NAHAM promotes best practices, improved education and training for professionals, and networking for mentoring and information sharing.