Professionals in the fields of health care, medical, and nursing, are among the most important workers in the economy. These gifted people make a major impact by providing care to the injured, ill, and mentally challenged. Within the healthcare industry there are a wide variety of potential careers available. Some professions, like nursing, work directly with patients and doctors, while other, like health administration, handle the organizational tasks that make the entire healthcare system run smoothly.
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Health services covers the branch of the health care industry that oversees the business end of a health and wellness oriented organization. The term refers to a management team that supervises the running of operations, budgeting billing, analysis, and other essential tasks of a hospital, private office, research lab, and the like.
A large organization may employ several health service specialists to head departments dedicated to certain aspects of health care, while a small office might have a single specialist overseeing all duties. Many health care professionals segue into health services as they advance in their careers due to the field’s flexibility and overwhelmingly good earning potential. Experts predict that the health care industry will continue to expand in the coming years along with a demand for qualified health services professionals.
The specific duties a health service professional depend entirely on the tasks assigned to them in the workplace. As with all businesses, there are varying types of work associated with different levels of management. Often known as a health care administrators, the most basic duties a health services team member is to facilitate the delivery of health care services by the organization they represent, such as a hospital, through coordination and analysis of budgeting and procedural methods. This includes maintaining patient records, recommending equipment for purchase, and generally striving for medical improvements in the workplace.
The main distinction is between clinical health service specialists and non-clinical specialists. Clinical health service professionals usually have a background in health care and are called upon to head up departments and make decisions informed by their area of expertise, such as nursing or surgery. Non-clinical professionals oversee human resources and financial aspects of the business.
What area of health service management is best for any one candidate is dependent entirely on their work experience, educational level, and interest in the business side of health care.
To have the most career mobility in the field of health services, it is usually a per-requisite that the candidate have a Master’s degree in health services administration, public health, health science, or businesses administration. Large scale operations such as insurance companies and hospitals will most likely ask to see this type of credential, whereas smaller physician’s offices may not. Qualified work experience also considered a viable credential and a combination of both experience and a higher degree of education is preferable. A Master’s degree takes on average 2-years to complete.
Many colleges and universities now offer several levels of education in health services administration, ranging from 4-year Bachelor’s degree to a doctoral degree. There are also options for students who want to specialize in a certain area of health care administration, such as hospital management. Students with either a liberal arts or health care background are eligible for admittance into a health services program.
The employment outlook for qualified health service professionals is extremely good. Though 38% of all Health Services Managers are employed by hospitals, it is all possible for graduates looking for entry-level positions to find positions in outpatient centers, retirement and nursing homes, and insurance agencies. The federal government also has a need for health services professionals to work in public health planning departments such as the Veterans Administration health care system.
The demand for health service professionals is expected to increase by 16% over the next ten years with a projected employment of over 328,800 Americans. The average salary for a health service manager hovers around $84,270 and increases based on experience and promotion.
Figures courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment & Wages database.