By Arial Starks
The healthcare industry offers a variety of divergent and intersecting career paths, and for that reason, there are many doors a Healthcare Management degree can open. There are a number of healthcare-related degrees you can pursue, depending on your career aspirations and experience level. We spoke with Burch Wood, Director of Health Care Programs at Vanderbilt Business, to learn more about the Master of Management in Health Care (MMHC) program and why it may be a good fit for healthcare professionals.
What will a Master of Management in Health Care teach me?
In an MMHC program, students learn technical business skills through courses in areas like finance, economics, operations, marketing, and strategy. They also gain soft skills in areas including leadership, presentations, and effective communication through group assignments. The Vanderbilt MMHC program includes capstone projects, where student teams work on real-world assignments with significant importance for their own organizations.
Wood says the MMHC program aims to give students a solid background in business, so that they can learn to apply concepts from class to healthcare. “Healthcare is very much a business. There are business aspects to the industry, and if you don’t understand those concepts, it can make it difficult for you to succeed, because it’s a complicated space.”
Who is an ideal MMHC candidate?
Some MMHC programs may seek candidates from one functional area of healthcare, but many accept professionals across the industry, from physicians to clinicians and non-clinical administrators. Vanderbilt MMHC typically attracts a melting pot of students from different healthcare professions, giving students the opportunity to work within teams that have diverse skill sets and learn to problem-solve as they would in higher-level managerial roles.
“The more different types of professionals that offer different backgrounds and experiences you can get in a space, the better they are at facing new and challenging situations in the workforce,” says Wood. “Not all programs are structured this way, and I find it extremely useful, because it’s something our students truly benefit from.”
Successful candidates are expected to come into the program with work experience. Vanderbilt MMHC requires at least 5 years of working experience with a general knowledge of the healthcare industry, and it can attract people who have as much as 15 years of experience in the healthcare field and may have already achieved management-level positions. “We’re looking for people who want to stay in health care and are looking to gain a better understanding of how health care works as a business,” said Wood.
How is MMHC different from other healthcare management degrees?
At 5 – 15 years, the required experience level for an MMHC degree is on the higher side of the healthcare program spectrum. Early-career professionals and recent college graduates should consider degrees like a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) or Master of Public Health. An MBA with a healthcare specialization or concentration typically attracts professionals with 3 – 5 years of work experience.
Moreover, the MMHC is designed for mid-career healthcare professionals who seek to stay in the industry and aspire to higher management or administrative roles. MHAs are typically designed for professionals seeking work in healthcare delivery, and MPH programs can lead to work in healthcare policy or advocacy. Healthcare-focused MBAs find work in a variety of positions both central and tangential to the industry.
“Not having that business background in healthcare can be detrimental to your success, and professionals who don’t have that experience come in through our MMHC Program and recognize there are missing tools in their toolkit. They want to fill that knowledge gap so that they can get the administrative roles they’re seeking,” says Wood.
Formats may vary, but many MMHC programs are delivered in a part-time format that typically takes 1 to 2 years to complete. The Vanderbilt MMHC is an executive-style program that takes 12 months to complete, offering students the flexibility to manage work, life, and school, as well as the opportunity to apply lessons learned in the classroom immediately to their work.