The complexity of a position as a healthcare manager requires preparation in many fields, and an undergraduate program of study can strengthen areas that need it. While some subjects may seem more interesting or easier due to familiarity, the choice of studies in undergraduate school needs to focus on a student’s weakest areas as an appropriate preparation for earning a master’s in healthcare management.
Getting a Grip on Finance
Every successful business manages finances carefully, an area of administration that requires a healthcare manager to understand the financial operation thoroughly. Whether a facility is for profit or non-profit, controlling expenses is vitally important. A non-profit has the same drains on funds as profit organizations, including payroll, marketing, technology, inventory, office supplies and overhead costs for office space.
Performing accounting procedures is usually not included in a healthcare manager’s job description, but knowledge of accounting and finance can enable a manager to understand the essential elements of the financial aspects of an organization. Relying on input from department managers is an accepted practice, but it is not an adequate substitute for recognizing signs of trouble in financial and statistical reports.
Understanding Legal Aspects
The study of law as an undergraduate does not prepare a person to enter the legal field, but it does provide awareness of the complex nature of legal issues in the healthcare field. Issues that can confront a healthcare manager, according to the Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health (http://clinicalcenter.nih.gov/participate/patientinfo/legal.shtml), include these:
• Patient’s Bill of Right
• pain management
• Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders
• release of medical information
• disposal of medical records
• advance directives
Knowledge of the law is the responsibility of licensed attorneys who are skilled in meeting the stringent requirements in the highly regulated field of healthcare today. However, a healthcare manager who has a foundation in law is prepared to make sure that a facility abides by all aspects of the law.
Acquiring Marketing and Public Relations Skills
The Public Relations Society of America at http://www.prsa.org/jobcenter/career_resources/resource_type/specialization_areas/healthcare_communications/
states that healthcare positions for public relations officers usually require an internship to learn the practical applications on the job. Skills in communication are key qualifications for a spokesperson who represents a healthcare organization, and they are essential for a healthcare manager as well. Understanding two way communication allows a manager to disseminate information to the public in an effective manner and to receive responses with interest. Listening to and evaluating input from the community can improve communication that affects the performance of a healthcare facility.
Undergraduate school for future healthcare managers provides an opportunity to explore areas that add substance a degree that leads to earning a master’s in the field. Studying law, public relations and finance offers challenging courses that help increase a manager’s effectiveness.