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How to Transition Your Career into Healthcare Management

Oct 18, 2022
Making the switch from clinical roles to administrative positions

By Arial Starks

The healthcare industry covers a wide range of disciplines, creating plenty of opportunities for professionals to transition into management. The pathway to healthcare management looks different for everyone, but there are a few things to consider when attempting to transition out of clinical or client-facing roles in the business and move into administrative positions. We spoke with Burch Wood, Director of Health Care Programs at Vanderbilt Business, to learn more about how to transition a healthcare career into healthcare management. 

Take on lower and mid-management roles

Burch Wood

Burch Wood

Once you have decided you want to transition into upper management positions within the healthcare industry, an important first step is to make sure healthcare management is the right move for you. Taking on entry-level and middle-management roles will allow you to get your feet wet before trying to advance into leading a healthcare organization.

“If you want to move up, then you start trying to take on the responsibilities of the role above you,” Wood said. “Start doing tasks and volunteering for projects that the person above you does. Most leaders will appreciate that because you are taking some things off their plate, but it also proves you are able to think at a different level and you are capable of taking on and handling more.”

Further your education

When looking to move up in any organization, you can either learn on the job by experience, which can take a lot of time and be stressful, or you can further your education and apply what you are learning in the classroom on the job. 

“When people start thinking about director-level-and-above positions in healthcare, they should start thinking about how to improve their knowledge in order to manage and lead a healthcare organization,” Wood said.

He encourages healthcare professionals looking to transition into administrative or upper management positions to pursue a healthcare management degree like the Master of Management in Healthcare program at Vanderbilt Business. Wood points to the capstone projects his MMHC students take on every year that help prepare them for the administrative side of healthcare. 

“We equip students with the education to set them up for success, but the capstone project allows you to take everything you have learned and put it to use,” he said. “We want our students to try and solve a real-world healthcare problem to get them thinking like a healthcare management professional.”

Get connected in the industry through networking and mentorship  

Healthcare professionals looking to transition into healthcare management need to get connected with leaders within their organization as well as outside of the company.  Join  professional healthcare clubs and organizations like the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). Wood says putting yourself out there and connecting with industry leaders is vital to your success. 

“We are fortunate in this community (Nashville) that we have a Chamber of Commerce that is actively always trying to support the healthcare community,” he said. “Healthcare professionals can join Leadership Healthcare locally to help connect each other with other healthcare leaders in the city.”

Wood also encourages healthcare professionals to get connected with industry leaders through mentorship. 

“Mentorship is important at all levels in the industry, but especially when you are looking to transition into healthcare management,” he said. “You need someone you can bounce ideas off of and walk through problem-solving with. Your mentor should be someone who has experienced and understands the industry at the level you are at and above, so they can help lead you to be better.”

Click here to learn how an MMHC degree can help you transition into healthcare management.

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