By Arial Starks
The business of healthcare continues to grow at an impressive rate, and more healthcare professionals are seeking healthcare management roles that accompany this growth. Healthcare workers aspiring to move into management should take note of a few fundamental keys to success. We sat down with Burch Wood, Director of Healthcare Programs, and Anna Kennedy, Program Coordinator, Health Care, at Vanderbilt Business to learn the keys to successful healthcare management.
1. Gain Business Knowledge
One of the most common reasons healthcare professionals consider returning to school in the middle of their careers is to gain knowledge in areas where they are lacking. This knowledge gap tends to be centered around business concepts that are essential to healthcare management. Wood says in order for a healthcare professional to make the transition to administrative roles, they need to explore pursuing a program like the Master of Management in Health Care (MMHC) where they will gain that core business training.
“That’s why we have the MMHC, to give those who are tasked with the job of running a healthcare organization the business knowledge that will make them effective leaders,” he said.
2. Learn to lead a team/organization
Healthcare professionals can be excellent at what they do, but if they are not able to lead a team or organization, Wood says it could prevent them from reaching their maximum career potential. “In the healthcare field, you have to learn how to manage a very diverse group of people,” he says. “You have to know how to get the most out of them and how to keep them motivated day after day.”
Healthcare management programs like the MMHC teach professionals to work as part of a team and can equip them with the tools they need to effectively lead a group of people. “The MMHC bringing different types of people together, communicating and learning to speak the same (business) language, (that) is part of what you get as the business fundamentals of the program,” says Kennedy.
3. Think and act strategically
One of the essential skills you learn in the Vanderbilt MMHC program is how to approach work with a strategic mindset. Through courses like management and strategy, professionals learn the importance of effective decision-making, which makes them better overall leaders in turn.
“At the end of the day, in order to be a good administrator, you have to understand and be able to answer questions like ‘what’s your 5 and 10 year plan?’ or even ‘how do the people you manage fit into that plan?” says Wood. “I believe part of why Vanderbilt organizes the MMHC program like we do is to give these healthcare professionals a taste of that early on.”
4. Be a life-long learner
A major key to success in any industry, but especially in the ever-changing world of healthcare management, is a commitment to life-long learning. As technology and concepts in healthcare continue to evolve, Kennedy says the ability to learn and adapt sets a person apart from the rest. “That’s what we look for in a candidate for the MMHC program, and it is almost always going to translate to their professional life as well,” she says. “It’s not what you learned 10 years ago, but how you can continue learning over the next 10 years.”
Wood notes that in order to make positive change in your organization, you have to be willing to learn and change as the industry progresses. “You have to have someone who is not only willing to accept change but also be a part of that change,” he says. “The people who are the most successful are the ones who see change coming down the pike and instead of running from it, they harness it and try to make something good out of it.”
Optimal success will look different to everyone in healthcare management, but as Wood says, as long as you are able to make positive change for your organization and in the lives of the people who depend on you as part of that organization, you can consider yourself successful.
To learn more about healthcare management at Vanderbilt Business, click here.