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What's the Difference Between Healthcare Administration and Healthcare Management?


A career in healthcare management or healthcare administration means joining one of the fastest-growing fields at a time when quality is more critical than ever before. In 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported median annual earnings for healthcare managers and administrators in the low six figures.

The two roles share significant similarities, and many people transition between the two throughout their careers. But there are important distinctions between healthcare management versus healthcare administration. Choosing the right degree program can prepare you for the role that best suits your personality and career goals.


Healthcare Management vs. Healthcare Administration: What’s the Difference?

The distinction between healthcare management and healthcare administration is one of degree, not kind. People can and do shift between the two roles throughout their careers, so it’s important to know that training in one does not preclude a career in the other. Indeed, a degree in either field can open doors in both. Rather than being categorically different, these roles have distinct focuses.

Healthcare management focuses on the big picture aspects of healthcare businesses — from large hospital systems to tiny local clinics. Managers often have training in business and finance and may oversee a staff of administrators and healthcare experts.

Some examples of healthcare management positions include:

  • Clinic manager
  • CEO of a hospital or healthcare system
  • CFO of a hospital or healthcare system
  • CEO of a healthcare nonprofit or non-governmental organization
  • Entrepreneur running a healthcare consulting firm

Healthcare administrators, by contrast, are more involved in daily operations. They also work in a wide range of settings, but have a highly specific focus no matter where they work. For example, a healthcare administrator may oversee a labor and delivery department at a hospital, implement policy changes at a new clinic or work with a hospital system to comply with new state and federal regulations.

Some examples of healthcare administration jobs include:

  • Executive director of a healthcare organization
  • Healthcare lobbyist or another governmental role
  • Administrator of a specific hospital or clinic department
  • Healthcare human resources

Both careers have business and healthcare components, and both require strong social and communication skills. Healthcare management is more oriented toward finance and business, whereas healthcare administration prioritizes health, interpersonal interactions and communication. Healthcare administrators tend to spend more time in clinical settings.


Which Career Path Should I Choose?

Whether you choose management or administration, you can earn a great living in a rapidly growing field. You will gain the chance to oversee a health system or clinic to optimize customer care and devise innovative solutions to tackle challenges such as healthcare access, health disparities and more.

So which career path is right for you? Try asking yourself the following:

  • Would I enjoy a career as a doctor or nurse? People with a more clinical orientation may thrive as health administrators.
  • How much social interaction do I enjoy each day? Managers often spend more time on business planning and paperwork, whereas administrators are closely involved in daily operations.
  • Do the ins and outs of business operations appeal to me? If so, you may thrive as a manager. Moreover, your management training could translate well to a career outside of healthcare.
  • Do I find math and finance interesting or appealing? Management roles and the degrees that lead to them tend to be slightly more math-intensive.
  • What specific skills do I want to master in the next few years? This may help determine your degree choice. For example, if you already have significant experience and training in accounting, you might prefer a degree that focuses on the healthcare aspects of administration.
  • What aspects of my current job do I enjoy most? How could you adapt those preferences into a new job? Which degree best suits your ideal new job?
  • What am I best at? This is sometimes different from the activities you enjoy most. To find a job in which you both excel and enjoy your time, it’s important to strike a balance.

Training for Master of Business Administration: Healthcare

SNU’s Master of Business Administration: Healthcare prepares students for the business and science of managing healthcare organizations. With 12 start dates per year, you can enroll when you’re ready. We offer the opportunity to graduate in as few as 18 months, and our innovative six-week course structure ensures you can focus on a single course at a time.

Students graduate ready to lead health organizations with a wide range of management skills that can serve them well across industries.

Some of the courses you will take include:

  • Business Essentials
  • Exploring Business Strategies
  • Ethics and Law
  • Management Analytics
  • Healthcare Systems: Policies and Regulations
  • Social Issues in Healthcare Administration
  • Accounting and Finance for Healthcare Decision-Making
  • Strategic Leadership for Organizations
  • Healthcare Operations

Before graduating, you’ll also complete a capstone project that focuses on cultivating the team leadership skills you will need in healthcare.


Training for Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration

SNU’s Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration is the ideal choice for finishing a degree you started elsewhere, starting a bachelor’s for the first time or building upon the career experience you already have.

Students complete their courses in as few as 18 months, with two annual start dates and a five-week course format that empowers you to focus on a single course at a time. You will gain a strong foundation that can prepare you to start your career or propel you into a graduate-level program to extend your training. Some of the courses you’ll take include:

  • Introduction to Healthcare Administration
  • Personal and Professional Development
  • Effective Communication and Marketing for Healthcare Professionals
  • Financial Management in Healthcare
  • Healthcare Operations and Strategic Management
  • Quality and Risk Management in Healthcare
  • Human Resource Management in Healthcare Administration
  • Healthcare Information Technology

You will also complete a practicum that prepares you for the real-world demands of this role.


The SNU Difference

Though these two areas of study can overlap based on focus, SNU degrees tees learners up for either path. A career in healthcare leadership is an exciting next step. But going back to school as an adult learner can be challenging, especially if you have young children or already work full time.

SNU caters to adult learners who have other responsibilities. We believe true balance, offering programs that make it possible to be an employee, student, parent and community member all at once. We know life is about more than just academics and careers, so we nurture the whole student. We value diversity and encourage you to bring your entire self to school.

Our programs are regionally accredited, high quality and taught by experts in the field. Our graduates ascend the career ladder to the highest levels of corporate and healthcare systems. With your SNU degree, you can go anywhere and be anything.

Explore SNU’s Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration or MBA in Healthcare to apply today.


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