Executive healthcare careers for Master of Business Administration graduates

11 min read


Healthcare is reaching a tipping point. The global healthcare market is expected to reach nearly $10 trillion in 2023, according to The Business Research Company, up from around $7 billion in 2019. The healthcare industry faces a number of challenges, including care delivery, care quality, technological advances, and rising costs. 

Modern healthcare leaders need to bridge gaps between departments, engage teams, develop talent, and optimize systems for patient-centered care. Professionals who want to excel in healthcare can become leaders in their careers by combining their experience in the industry with a high-impact online MBA program that is recontextualized for healthcare.

Northern Arizona University (NAU)’s online Master of Business Administration in Healthcare presented in partnership with OpusVi will give you a holistic perspective on the inner workings of healthcare so you’re ready to lead meaningful change and make a lasting impact. Such a degree program is an excellent foundation for a variety of healthcare management careers, a few of which we will look into here. 

Top career fields in healthcare management

Healthcare professionals looking to enact change by taking on a management position need to be equipped with a comprehensive business management education, including administration, financial analysis and decision-making, business law, and corporate governance. Such careers include the following four roles:

1. Hospital CFO

A hospital CFO (chief financial officer) is responsible for the financial and accounting operations of a hospital or hospital system. As healthcare has evolved, the role of the hospital CFO has become more strategic in focus. CFOs now participate in most executive decisions and must ensure that the financial wellbeing of the hospital can support the company’s goals. Hospital CFOs usually have a CPA license and a background in accounting, finance, or business. 

2. Clinical informatics manager

A clinical informatics manager is responsible for overseeing the operations of the computer hardware and software used to deliver healthcare services. At the highest level, professionals will hold the role of chief informatics officer (CIO). Many clinical informatics managers have a clinical background as a nurse or a doctor. They apply their clinical experience to challenges such as making technology user-friendly to nurses and doctors.

3. Hospital administrator

Hospital administrators are responsible for all aspects of healthcare delivery in a hospital or throughout a hospital system. They must be proficient in facilities management, healthcare technology, finance and accounting, patient care, and risk assessment. 

4. Nurse manager

Nurse managers are responsible for supervising the nursing staff in a hospital, nursing home, or other medical facility. At the highest level, this is a chief nursing officer (CNO). A nurse manager generally will have a nursing background and will also need a solid foundation in business, accounting, human resources, and healthcare administration.

Knowledge and skills for healthcare management careers

At the manager and executive level, healthcare management careers usually require either a master’s degree or a doctorate. Professionals at this level are responsible for managing people and operations, and will be tasked with innovating and setting strategy according to an organization’s goals.

Effective management in any industry requires a wide range of experience, both technical and interpersonal. In the healthcare industry, managers and administrators must not only have experience in healthcare — whether that comes from a clinical, research, insurance, or related background — they must also have a solid foundation in business concepts, such as accounting, marketing, operations, or human resources. In addition, they need the interpersonal skills that enable them to be effective administrators or managers.

The skills and experience required for an effective career in healthcare management include:

Healthcare industry knowledge             

Healthcare is a highly complex, heavily regulated industry. To be an effective leader, healthcare management professionals must have a solid understanding of healthcare concepts. Depending on what career field they choose, they should know how their department impacts the organization’s bottom line. Areas that healthcare managers must have knowledge of include:

Patient care

Patient care is the focus of every healthcare provider, whether they are a single-physician office or a national hospital system. Even departments that don’t directly interact with patients, such as accounting, must understand the patient workflow, from scheduling to billing to reimbursements. Patient privacy, safety, and quality of care are often part of every department’s metrics. 

Healthcare technology

Healthcare technology has expanded far beyond state-of-the-art medical devices. Technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and patient electronic health records (EHRs) are now an everyday part of healthcare. AI is used in patient scheduling and diagnosing. EHRs are used across most of the industry. The data produced by healthcare technology is used to analyze operations and performance. 

Healthcare regulations

The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) governs patient health records and privacy. Medicare regulations govern how providers get reimbursed for care. According to the American Hospital Association, hospitals must comply with more than 600 separate regulations, and new rules are frequently adopted. 

Healthcare revenue cycles

Understanding the revenue cycle of a hospital, physician’s office, nursing home, or other provider is essential to an effective healthcare finance career. All the steps of the revenue cycle must be integrated into the administrative operations of the healthcare provider. Data captured from the revenue cycle can help a facility better understand its operations. For example, too many billings that go to collections could indicate a problem at the patient registration step. 

Physician practice management

Good financial management is essential to a thriving physician practice. A well-trained healthcare financial administrator will be knowledgeable about compliance with the Stark Law (an anti-kickback statute), financial reporting, and contract evaluation, among other best practices. 

Managed care

Understanding managed care means understanding how healthcare insurance intersects with healthcare. It is crucial to how providers get paid. Effective healthcare finance managers will have a strong background in managed care and health insurance. 

Financing and capital

Healthcare is a capital-intensive industry. Financial administrators must understand capital, debt, bond issues, and other financing issues to ensure their organization’s financial well-being. They may also be involved in making decisions regarding debt, capital projects, and other strategic initiatives. 

Healthcare policy, strategy, and innovation           

Healthcare is a dynamic industry, and healthcare policy is ever-changing. Effective management requires a mindset that is innovative and forward thinking. Examples of innovation in healthcare strategy and policy include:

The impact of COVID-19

The pandemic changed the way hospitals and doctors treat patients. Now, policies such as telemedicine have become part of the day-to-day operations of some providers. The pandemic also spurred innovations that were adopted almost immediately, rather than taking years to filter through the industry. The rapid development and deployment of the coronavirus vaccine is a case in point.

Price transparency and surprise billing

Hospital charges have typically been a source of great anxiety and confusion to most patients. Surprise billing, by which a patient finds out they’re responsible for thousands of dollars in hospital bills after a surgery or emergency room visit, has earned the hospital industry some black marks. Recent legislation is designed to foster price transparency and eliminate surprise billing.  

Value-based care vs. fee-for-service

U.S. hospitals and other providers traditionally have been paid under a fee-for-service model. However, the industry is moving toward value-based care, which stresses preventive healthcare to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. This move has changed the way providers are reimbursed for care. Understanding the new model is essential to making sure that providers get paid for their services.

Human resources

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, doctors and nurses are vulnerable to fatigue and stress due to overwork, which can lead to many bad outcomes, including a burned-out workforce. Properly managing staffing is essential to providing quality care to patients and maintaining a safe and rewarding workplace for employees. Human resources issues significant to the healthcare industry include:

Shortage of qualified health professionals

In the U.S. alone, employment in healthcare is expected to grow 15% from 2019 to 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demand is rising due to an aging population, and because many healthcare professionals are retiring. A significant shortage of nurses is projected nationwide, for example, and many rural areas are experiencing physician shortages.


Scheduling nursing and other clinical staff is an art form. Administrators responsible for shift scheduling in physician practices, nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities have a variety of software options to make the process more efficient.

Certification and training

Ensuring staff are trained and that all of their certifications and licensures are up-to-date is another essential administrative task. Expired certifications and licenses pose legal, regulatory, and quality risks. Other training, such as cybersecurity training, is increasingly the responsibility of healthcare administrators. 

Creative thinking, communication, and problem-solving       

High-level healthcare management careers place a premium on creative thinking and problem-solving. Many of the issues that face healthcare providers require innovation and creative strategies. Skills for a successful manager include:

Value creation

Preventive medicine, telemedicine, data analytics, and the use of AI and other technologies are changing the way healthcare is delivered. Managers and executives who understand these concepts are positioned to create new business models that meet the healthcare challenges of the future.


Negotiation and persuasive communication are an important part of a healthcare professional’s arsenal of tools. Managers and administrators must be able to present their ideas to the leadership team. Effective communication with patients and community outreach are essential to building trust and getting buy-in when introducing new care models, for example.  

Data analytics and decision-making

Data analytics, blockchain, big data, and other digital concepts are expanding in influence in the healthcare sector. Managers and administrators must understand how data can be used to support decision-making and strategy. 

Healthcare marketing

To be competitive, healthcare providers must market their services to patients, to their local communities, and even nationally or internationally. Healthcare marketers must create and deploy marketing campaigns that support their organization’s brand and mission while also building name recognition and trust in patients and potential patients. Healthcare marketing activities include:

Digital marketing

Digital marketing, including email, social media, and video, are ways to raise a provider’s profile. Digital marketing can be an effective part of an overall marketing strategy.

Thought leadership development

Highlighting physicians, nurses, and other providers as thought leaders can boost patient and community trust. For example, some hospitals make their healthcare experts available for news articles or features on current events in healthcare.

Medical services advertising

With a marketing strategy in place, healthcare marketers can use their channels — social media, video, newsletters, and other tools — to promote their medical services to potential patients.

Salaries and job outlook for healthcare management careers

The high demand for healthcare providers, especially nurses and doctors, is good news for professionals who are seeking a career in healthcare management. As mentioned above, employment across all healthcare occupations is expected to grow 15% between 2019 and 2029, according to the BLS. Additionally, the median wage for all healthcare occupations is significantly higher than the average median wage for all occupations.  

Hospital CFO salary and outlook

The average annual salary for a hospital CFO was about $152,000 as of July 2021, according to ZipRecruiter. The number of jobs for financial managers in all industries is expected to rise 15% between 2019 and 2029, according to the BLS, indicating a solid demand for this profession.

Clinical informatics manager salary and job outlook

The median annual salary of clinical informatics managers was around $96,000 in June 2021, according to PayScale. At the highest experience level, the median salary was $130,000, per PayScale. Clinical informatics managers fall under the broader medical and health services manager group identified by the BLS. Demand for health services managers is expected to grow 32% between 2019 and 2029. 

Hospital administrator salary and job outlook

The median annual salary of hospital administrators was around $87,000 in July 2021, according to PayScale. Salaries vary depending on factors such as experience, education, location, and organization; the top 10% of earners bring in about $150,000. As with other medical and health services managers, demand for hospital administrators is expected to grow at the rate of 32% between 2019 and 2029.  

Nurse manager salary and job outlook

The median annual nurse manager salary was around $87,000 in July 2021, according to PayScale, with salaries in the top 10% rising to $118,000. Nurses are in high demand due to a shortage of professionals at all levels. Many nurses are retiring and nursing schools have not been able to train enough incoming nursing students to fill the need. Demand for advanced practice registered nurses is expected to grow 45% between 2019 and 2029, according to the BLS.

How to get a job in healthcare management

As the demand for health services managers shows, now is the right time to prepare for a job in healthcare management. Professionals can take several steps toward a rewarding career. Here are a few ways to transition from healthcare provider to healthcare manager. 

Identify a career path   

The first step for an individual interested in moving into healthcare management is to determine which field or opportunity is the most interesting to them. This could be data analytics, finance, human resources, or marketing, for example. In today’s healthcare industry, these career fields are looking for innovative leadership. 

Research additional training and education  

Depending on which career in healthcare management is of interest, a professional may have to get additional training, licensing, or certification.  

Seek out on-the-job training and mentoring

Professionals should make use of resources available to them while in their current role. They can reach out to managers and colleagues to let them know they’re interested in expanding their career opportunities. Depending on what an individual’s ultimate goals are, moving into a supervisory role can be an excellent foundation for further advancement or additional education. 

Commit to an advanced degree

Many careers in healthcare management require advanced degrees, a master’s degree at least. Aspiring healthcare managers can do research to determine the best degree for their career path and make sure it will provide the kind of strategic and innovative coursework and projects that they are looking to bring to their career. For example, an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, which provides a foundational education in business management, can be an excellent step toward a leadership role in any industry. This is especially the case in healthcare.

What is a Master of Business Administration in Healthcare?

Healthcare is unlike any other business because the patients’ health is at stake. Yet, all too often, healthcare professionals are forced to choose between high quality and affordability when it comes to their education. OpusVi’s MBA in Healthcare with Northern Arizona University (NAU) was created to remove this conflict. At a tuition cost of less than $20,000, this flexible, high-quality online program can help you excel in your current role and open doors for better possibilities. The goal of a business administration degree in healthcare is to train managers and administrators to be effective leaders who have a holistic perspective on the inner workings of healthcare to lead meaningful change and provide high-quality medical treatment for patients. 

What are the advantages of a Master of Business Administration in Healthcare?

The following are some of the benefits of an online MBA in Healthcare:

  • Students who are interested in healthcare management careers are introduced to the foundations of business administration and strategic management principles recontextualized in the healthcare industry.
  • Through a blend of lecture-based courses, an applied practicum, and direct engagement with healthcare professionals, our MBA in Healthcare will arm you with the leadership, communications, and collaboration skills to affect meaningful change in healthcare at an organizational level.
  • For healthcare practitioners who have a background in a clinical or research practice, or those who come from a related field, an online MBA in Healthcare can help them move from provider to decision-maker.
  • Coursework covers business administration practices, accounting, management, as well as healthcare policy, and financial value creation, among other topics.
  • At the end of your MBA program, you will have the opportunity to engage in a consulting opportunity where you work in a small team under faculty guidance to identify, analyze, and solve real problems for real-world clients in the healthcare industry.


Discover Our Online MBA in Healthcare

Learn More