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Health Care Management


Health care is the largest industry in the United States, employing more than 20.5 million people in 2022 and growing rapidly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health care workers diagnose, treat, and administer care to patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The health care system is comprised of a wide variety of medical facilities that are located throughout the country. Hospitals provide comprehensive medical care to patients. Services include emergency care, diagnostic medicine, surgery, and general care. Nursing and residential facilities provide medical services to people who need continuous care, but do not need to be hospitalized.

Offices of physicians and other health care professionals consist of small groups of medical professionals who work together to reduce practice costs. These physicians see patients with problems ranging from the flu to serious illnesses, such as cancer or heart disease. Group medical practices are similar, but they often have hundreds, and even thousands, of doctors on staff. Rehabilitation centers help people recover from stroke, injuries, or other medical conditions. Diagnostic imaging centers provide imaging services such as radiography and sonography. Urgent-care facilities provide care on an unscheduled, walk-in basis to people with illnesses or injuries that are not serious enough to cause them to go to a hospital emergency room. Home health care services provide medical and nursing care to patients in their homes. Additionally, some medical professionals work at health care consulting firms, providing their expertise to the various industry sectors.

It takes skilled managers to keep these facilities and the health care system running effectively to serve the needs of patients. Health care managers direct the operation of hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care organizations. They are responsible for facilities, services, programs, staff, budgets, and relations with other organizations.

In 2022, 509,500 health care managers were employed in hospitals; group medical practices; offices of physicians, dentists, and other health practitioners; and centers for urgent care, rehabilitation, and diagnostic imaging. Opportunities are also plentiful in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, home health care agencies, adult day care programs, life care communities, and other residential facilities, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Health care facilities are owned by state and federal governments or religious and other nonprofit organizations. Many are for-profit companies such as HCA Healthcare, Community Health Systems, Tenet Healthcare, DaVita, Universal Health Services, Genesis HealthCare, Brookdale Senior Living, Select Medical, Encompass Health Corporation, Acadia Healthcare, and Ensign Group—all of which have made recent Fortune 500 lists. Some health care managers work for health care consulting firms or own their own consulting businesses. The military and the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Health & Human Services, as well as state and local agencies, also offer careers in this field.

Health care is big business. Total U.S. health care expenditures reached $4.3 trillion in 2021 (up from $3.6 trillion in 2018), according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Industry expenditures broke down as follows: hospital care ($1.3 trillion); physician and clinical services ($864.6 billion); prescription drugs ($378.0 billion); other health, residential, and personal care services ($223.5 billion); nursing care facilities and continuing care retirement communities ($181.3 billion); dental services ($161.8 billion); home health care services ($125.2 billion); other professional services ($130.6 billion); other non-durable medical products ($97.4 billion); and durable medical equipment ($67.1 billion). These large expenditures translate into excellent job opportunities for health care managers, who, in addition to managing employees and facilities, are needed to help manage budgets and reduce expenditures while still providing quality health care services to patients.

The health care industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The American Hospital Association reports that hospitals and health systems lost $206.6 billion in revenue from March 1 through June 30, 2020, as a result of the pandemic. Some nonessential health care workers lost their jobs, while critical care medical professionals in hard-hit areas experienced highly stressful work conditions as they sought to provide care to those stricken by the virus. The industry continues to recover from this worldwide pandemic, and health care managers are at the forefront of coming changes to the industry that have been fueled or accelerated by the pandemic.

Jobs for those in health care management range from chief executive officers, who lead entire facilities, to department heads, who are responsible for a single department at a hospital or other health care facility. Such departments include nursing administration, finance, government relations, marketing and public affairs, patient care services, and others. Jobs in health care management exist at many levels and provide opportunities for people with a wide range of skills and experience. Medical knowledge is not always required, and many of the jobs typical of any large company or organization exist in the industry, with the bonus that they are likely to be in demand in the future as the need for health care grows.

The career of health care manager typically ranks high in “best job” lists due to its combination of good pay, relatively low stress levels, challenging work, advancement possibilities, strong employment demand, and other criteria.

U.S. News & World Report listed the career of medical and health services manager as the 3rd-best job in the United States in 2022, touting its high pay and good work-life balance. It received an overall score of 8.4 out of 10 (the highest score possible). Here is a breakdown of how the occupation was ranked in individual categories:

  • future growth: 9
  • salary: 8
  • job market: 8
  • work life balance: 6
  • stress: 4