Project managers work in almost every industry, and one industry that has been increasingly embracing project management is healthcare. If you love medicine, management and making project plans, but you haven’t considered a career as a healthcare project manager, then it might be time to start.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “healthcare practitioners and technical occupations are projected to be among the fastest growing occupational groups during the 2016-2026 projections decade.” That means more projects and more project managers.
What Is a Healthcare Project Manager?
That’s great news, but what exactly is a healthcare project manager? Often called a hospital or a healthcare project manager, they are professionals who oversee a large spectrum of projects within the healthcare organization. That can include managing an addition to the hospital, securing medical supplies from vendors or planning an increase in emergency response rate by a certain percentage.
Healthcare project managers identify issues and offer solutions, manage teams and delegate tasks, as well as monitor progress and stay on schedule. Communication is also a cornerstone, though you might be communicating with different departments, such as a hospital board or others in charge of the budget.
The pace in the medical sector is fast. There will be constant deadlines, and you’ll likely have to manage more than one project at a time. So, you’re going to have to juggle a lot of responsibilities and interact with a wide variety of people to get everything done.
What Skills Are Required for a Healthcare Project Manager?
The skill set for a project manager in healthcare is not wholly different than the skill set for a typical project manager. However, you’ll have to adapt those skills to the unique challenges that a healthcare environment presents.
In healthcare there are often many executive tiers to dialogue with, and you’ll need to be able to listen actively and communicate effectively with all of them. There will also be unique situations, such as complying to medical codes and protocols. In these settings there might be a more formal way of dealing with people, and you’ll have to familiarize yourself with that.
Managing a project is all about leadership. You need to motivate and inspire your team, have them buy into the project and work with you to complete tasks successfully. But you’ll also need to build relationships and confidence with the executives that you answer to. You need to lead both the team and those who hold the purse strings.
Problem Solving Skills
The problems that come up in a healthcare environment are going to share some issues that are normal to any project, such as team members being blocked, budget shortfalls and acts of God. But healthcare is also going to have risks inherent that are exclusive to its business, such as changes to public healthcare policy and the potential for rising costs in medical science technology.
This might be the most important of all skills. As well-planned as your project might be, there will be issues, and you’re going to have to have the flexibility to respond to those issues. A rigid project manager leads a failing project. Healthcare projects are often large and structured, but that doesn’t mean that they go off without a hitch. Being agile and having the ability to respond quickly is what separates the okay project managers from the great ones.
What Does it Take to Become a Healthcare Project Manager?
If you’re looking to work in the healthcare field as a project manager, it doesn’t hurt to have an undergraduate degree in a related field, such as health administration, health management, nursing, public health administration or even business administration. An advanced degree is even better as it helps differentiate you from the crowd.
It also helps to get PM certification, as it is becoming increasingly required when healthcare companies post for these positions. The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers a couple tiers of certification. There’s the Project Management Professional (PMP), which is recognized worldwide and in the healthcare profession. The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is equally accepted, but is a less involved certification.
While certification isn’t mandatory, it does give a strong foundation in the basics of project management. As healthcare continues to grow and change, the need for specialized project managers continues. There are a growing number of university programs that feature healthcare project management as a major.
Plus, recent changes in federal law have lead to an increase in the hiring of healthcare project managers as they implement new projects to remain in compliance with code, improve patient services, convert files to electronic records and streamline processes.
Healthcare Project Manager Tools
Before you get a job as a healthcare project manager, you should first acquaint yourself with the tools that you would be using daily. Gantt charts, kanban boards, task management tools, dashboards, and reporting tools are the most commonly used tools for project managers in any industry.
Find out which tools work best for you, and get comfortable with the terminology. Embrace them; because project management tools help project managers do their jobs more efficiently and productively.
If you’re looking for a career in healthcare project management, then you’ll want to have the right tools to make that transition seamless. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that collects real-time data and provides a collaborative platform for teams to work more productively. Try our real-time dashboards, online Gantt charts and more by taking this free 30-day trial.