What Does a Hospital Manager Do, and How Do I Become One?

A hospital manager leads a staff meeting.Hospital managers oversee the general administration of hospitals and other provider facilities. Their central goals are to prioritize patient safety, as well as to ensure the financial and operational sustainability of the sites they manage.

Hospital managers ― who may also bear job titles such as hospital administrator, medical and health service manager, patient care manager or practice manager ― monitor healthcare quality, review staff performance, select and implement relevant medical technologies and IT infrastructure, and promote a collaborative organizational culture.

Indeed, the hospital manager role is inherently collaborative and involves regularly coordinating activities with numerous stakeholders. Since managers are responsible for the hospital as a whole, they will interact with physicians, nurses, billing specialists, and other administrators and staff.

The hospital manager position is not an entry-level job; most hospital managers have some previous administrative and/or clinical experience within a hospital. While a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for landing one of these managerial roles, many medical and health services managers have a master’s degree, such as a Healthcare Master of Business Administration.

Hospital Manager Job Description

Every hospital is a unique operating environment, but the hospital manager job description usually encompasses a similar set of responsibilities, including but not limited to:

Ensuring Quality and Efficiency in Care Delivery

Patient care is the keystone of hospital operations. Hospital managers perform ongoing oversight to make sure that this care is both high quality and efficiently delivered.

Performing such due diligence is complex, since it requires staying up to date with ongoing regulatory changes, managing the hospital budget and reviewing the practices of medical personnel. For example, many payers are shifting toward value-based reimbursement models that factor in patient outcomes when determining provider payments, as replacements for traditional fee-for-service setups.

It falls to hospital managers or administrators to navigate these changes. They will normally set goals and objectives and conduct training to give hospital workers everything they need to provide adequate care.

Managing Hospital Finances and Records

It’s no accident that many hospital managers have M.B.A.s, as the position involves extensive financial and operational management. M.B.A. programs like a Healthcare M.B.A. build the necessary analytical acumen to excel when managing the complicated finances of the typical hospital.

Administrators will set budgets and then check to see how the hospital’s current and projected expenses square with what's already been allotted. Budgetary oversight may be done on a department-by-department basis.

Beyond budgets, hospital managers also oversee patient fees and billing. They formulate strategies for how to handle relations between patients and payers/insurers, which without careful management can result in excessive billing and confusion. As part of this work, hospital managers will also be responsible for gathering and maintaining records, such as the facility’s chargemaster.

Recruiting, Training and Leading Medical Staff

A big part of the hospital manager's job description involves creating a productive work environment for all employees. To make that a reality, these managers play an active role in recruiting, hiring and training medical staff. Managers may also create work schedules and determine how shifts are managed.

Moreover, hospital managers serve as representatives of, and advocates for, their entire teams. They may negotiate with other stakeholders in and outside the hospital and attend events as the public face of their organization.

How to Become a Hospital Manager

Most hospital managers have at least a bachelor’s degree and several years of experience in a hospital environment. Common academic backgrounds for hospital managers include nursing, health information systems, public health administration and business administration. Earning a bachelor’s degree can help a student establish a foundational knowledge of basic elements of a healthcare facility’s operations, such as health services, accounting, health information systems and ethics.

Advanced degrees like an M.B.A. can help build this expertise. A Healthcare M.B.A. provides a core curriculum with comprehensive coursework on business management, operations and finance, along with a wide selection of courses on healthcare topics such as patient safety systems and healthcare quality, both of which are especially relevant as the industry moves toward prioritizing the quality of medical care more than ever.

Earning an advanced degree can also improve a person’s potential job prospects. Although a bachelor’s degree is required to pursue a role in the field, some employers may decide to make a master’s degree a prerequisite for hospital manager jobs.

In addition to earning a degree, gaining administrative experience in a healthcare facility can also be helpful. Experience provides individuals with the opportunity to sharpen some of the skills considered fundamental for a hospital management role, such as strong analytical, technical and interpersonal skills. The cultivation of these skills can be furthered by obtaining certification, though certification is not a requirement for the role.

Hospital Manager Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and health services managers, which includes hospital managers, had a median annual salary of $104,280 as of May 2020. That’s well above the national median.

In addition to the hospital manager salary, the job outlook for this position is also positive. The BLS projects a 32% growth in the number of medical and health services managers between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the average growth projected for all occupations. At that rate, there would be more than 400,000 of these managers employed nationwide by 2029.

Make a Powerful Impact in Care Delivery

The hospital manager’s role is about more than making a healthcare facility run efficiently. Hospital managers’ duties directly correlate to creating an environment that allows for an optimal form of care delivery, something that can translate to improved patient outcomes. For healthcare professionals looking to make a significant impact in healthcare, achieving this role may fulfill this mission.

George Washington University’s online Healthcare M.B.A. is a good fit for working healthcare professionals looking to take the next step in their careers. Individuals from many different backgrounds, from physicians to administrators, have successfully completed the Healthcare M.B.A. degree program. Learn more about how earning a Healthcare M.B.A. can give you the skills to pursue leadership roles in healthcare.

Recommended Readings

Diversity in Healthcare: 10 Tips for Managing a Diverse Workforce

How Hospital Management Affects Patient Care

What Is a Chargemaster and What Do Hospital Administrators Need to Know About It?


Houston Chronicle, “Role of Financial Management in Health Care”

Houston Chronicle, “The Steps to Take in Order to Become a Hospital Manager”

Investopedia, “Operation Management in Healthcare”

The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management, About Us

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers