Healthcare Risk Manager

Providing healthcare inherently has a high degree of risk. These can be environmental, clinical, regulatory, and even privacy-related. While not all risks can be avoided, many can be mitigated through strategizing and risk management. To evaluate and control risk, healthcare organizations hire healthcare risk managers.

Healthcare risk managers are key members of healthcare administration. Their primary role is to minimize risk in their organization by implementing, monitoring, and evaluating risk management plans. To do this, they analyze data, audit procedures, survey care providers and patients, and prepare reports. While this job may seem tedious, the outcomes can have a positive effect on patient care.

In order to step into this role, aspiring healthcare risk managers must complete at least a bachelor’s degree. Majors can vary from business administration to public health, healthcare administration, and healthcare risk management.

After completing an undergraduate degree, students can complete additional education in the form of a certificate or master’s degree to further hone their skills to be successful healthcare risk managers. Degree programs are plentiful across the country, both online and in person.

A career as a healthcare risk manager can be quite lucrative. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020), healthcare risk managers are classified as medical and health services managers and earn $118,800 per year on average. This is a growing field with an anticipated 32 percent increase in jobs for healthcare managers between 2019 and 2029 (BLS 2021). That’s an estimated 139,600 jobs, many of them for healthcare risk managers.

Continue learning about this career in the guide below. Included are educational programs, admission requirements, typical job duties, and certification opportunities for aspiring healthcare risk managers.

Healthcare Risk Manager Specializations & Degree Types

Education is a necessary step in a career as a healthcare risk manager; however, how much education and what kind can vary greatly. At a minimum, aspiring professionals in this field will need to complete a bachelor’s degree. There are several undergraduate degree programs across the country that offer majors in healthcare risk management. These programs are available both on-campus and online.

Other education options include completing an undergraduate degree in healthcare administration, business administration, or risk management. Additional skills needed for this job can be obtained by earning a certificate in the missing expertise. These certificates can be a few hours long or take a year or more to complete.

A master’s degree, while not required, can be a huge asset to anyone looking to work as a healthcare risk manager. Employers highly value the additional education and skills that are gained while earning a master’s of business administration, master’s of public health, or master’s of health administration. In addition, a master’s can help candidates stand apart when applying for work, increase advancement opportunities, and help increase pay.

Admissions Requirements for Healthcare Risk Manager Programs

Admission requirements for healthcare risk managers vary based on the type of degree pursued and the competitiveness of the program. Certificate programs often have relatively low admissions requirements, making them accessible to most students.

Undergraduate degree program requirements are more rigorous and can include graduating from high school or obtaining a GED, SAT or ACT scores, an admission essay, official transcripts, and extracurricular activities.

Master’s degree programs will have the highest requirements. These can include a letter of intent, GRE or GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, a current resume, an undergraduate degree, official transcripts, and sometimes even an interview. Some programs may require applicants to have work experience in healthcare, business, or risk management.

Healthcare Risk Manager Program Accreditation

Ensuring an academic program is accredited is critical because it assures students and employers that a program meets or exceeds a quality standard. Schools, colleges, and universities can be regionally accredited or programmatically accredited. Regional accreditation is from one of seven accrediting organizations that span the country. They are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the Department of Education. Students should verify that, at a minimum, their program holds regional accreditation.

Programmatic, sometimes called national, accreditation is for a specific school or degree. Depending on the major chosen, these accreditation agencies can vary. Business schools are primarily accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Public health degrees are accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, and healthcare administration degrees are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).

On-Campus Healthcare Risk Manager Degree Programs

Temple University – Fox School of Business

The four-year bachelor’s in business administration in risk management and insurance at Temple University’s Fox School of Business can be an excellent fit for aspiring healthcare risk managers. In fact, this degree offers a healthcare risk concentration that features specialized coursework, including health economics and healthcare financing and information technology.

One enticing aspect of this degree is that students have outstanding opportunities for internships and future employment at dozens of firms that partner with Temple. Admission to this major is competitive, and students must first be admitted to Temple University. To apply, students must use the Common Application, submit standardized test scores, write an application essay, and pay a $55 application fee.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Tuition: $38,544 per year

Metropolitan College of New York – School of Business

In just one year, students can complete the master’s in business administration in health services and risk management at Metropolitan College of New York School of Business. This accelerated program teaches students the skill necessary to step into management roles in healthcare and risk management. There is also a strong entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship component that teaches students to innovate.

All students learn in what is called the Constructive Action format, which is a highlight of this degree. An action leadership in an organization can take, such as analysis, planning, or management, is highlighted each semester. Then, all the classes that semester are focused on how to take that action, the ethics related to the action, and what skills are necessary to excel at taking this action.

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Duration: One year
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Tuition: $976 per credit

Husson University – College of Business

At the Husson University College of Business, students can choose to complete a master’s in business administration in a number of concentrations, including healthcare administration or risk management. Either degree can help prepare students for a career as a healthcare risk manager.

The advantage to attending Hudson is that no matter which concentration a student chooses, they can always complete their electives in the other specialization and gain the knowledge needed to excel in this field. Courses are conveniently offered on evenings and weekends to accommodate students who may continue to work or have family obligations.

  • Location: Bangor, ME
  • Duration: Two years of part-time study
  • Accreditation: International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
  • Tuition: $532 per credit

South Texas College

Ambitious students can complete the bachelor’s of applied technology in medical and health services management at South Texas College in as little as three years.

This on-campus degree program prepares students to work as medical service managers in a variety of fields. While this program is targeted towards students who already have an associate degree in healthcare, it can be a great stepping stone for anyone.

To prepare for a career as a healthcare risk manager, students can opt to take courses such as risk management for health professionals. Admission requirements for incoming freshmen only include a high school diploma or GED. Transfer students must only provide an official transcript.

  • Location: McAllen, TX
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $399 per credit

Portland State University – Mark O. Hatfield School of Government

A master’s in public health may not seem like the first choice for a career as a healthcare risk manager. However, the Portland State University MPH degree with a specialization in health administration can set students down the right track for this career.

The degree requires 15 credits of electives which students can complete from any department across campus. The School of Business at PSU offers several courses in risk assessment and management, making them the perfect electives to complete a degree for aspiring healthcare risk managers.

  • Location: Portland, OR
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Tuition: $676 per credit

Online or Hybrid Healthcare Risk Manager Degree Program

Valdosta State University – Langdale College of Business

Valdosta State University’s Langdale College of Business offers a two-year online master’s in business administration in healthcare administration. This program prepares graduates to step into management roles in healthcare, and with electives such as insurance and risk management, students are adequately prepared to work in risk management as well.

Required courses for this program include managerial accounting, marketing strategy, financial management in healthcare, advanced quantitative methods, leadership and motivation, and more. In total, students must earn 36 credits to complete this degree.

Admission requirements include undergraduate prerequisites, GMAT or GRE scores, a competitive undergraduate GPA, a current resume, and an in-depth answer to the essay questionnaire.

  • Location: Valdosta, GA
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Tuition: $385 per credit

Everett Community College

For professionals who just need a little extra training in healthcare risk management, Everett Community College offers three online courses on this very topic. These five-credit classes are completed online and take approximately 50 hours each to complete. The courses are intro to healthcare risk management, healthcare risk management and liability, and law, healthcare, and patient safety.

Upon completion of this three-course series, students will be able to assess risk, improve patient safety, reduce patient claims, and help reduce malpractice costs. There are no admission requirements to this program other than having completed an entrance exam and college-level English.

  • Location: Everett, WA
  • Duration: 150 hours
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Tuition: $298.52 per credit

University of Central Florida – College of Community Innovation and Education

The University of Central Florida College of Community Innovation and Education offers a self-paced online healthcare risk management certificate. While this program is primarily designed for professionals who already work in healthcare, such as nurses, doctors, or allied health professionals, anyone interested may take this course.

In total, students complete 11 modules taught by experts in the respective topics. The modules include ethics, patient care, risk management, financing credentialing, claims management, HIPAA, and more. Students can complete the modules at their own pace, but it must be completed within one year, or students will have to pay for the course again.

  • Location: Orlando, FL
  • Duration: Timelines vary, but students have a maximum of one year
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $995 for the entire course

Duquesne University – John G. Rangos, Sr. School of Health Sciences

The online master’s of health administration at Duquesne University John G. Rangos, Sr. School of Health Sciences has a concentration in healthcare compliance and risk management. Graduates of this program are prepared to hold leadership roles in managing risk in healthcare settings.

A focus of this program is on patient data and how to implement programs that will help protect it. Students will also have the skills to draft contracts, implement policies, and craft training initiatives to save lives and costs.

No previous work experience is required for admission to this program. However, applicants must submit three letters of recommendation, a letter of intent, undergraduate transcripts, and a current resume. In addition, international students must prove English proficiency with a TOEFL exam.

  • Location: Pittsburg, PA
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $1,615 per credit

University of Florida

For professionals looking to familiarize themselves with the core concepts of healthcare risk management, the online certificate in healthcare risk management and patient safety at the University of Florida might be a good fit. In just 40 hours, students will learn about informed consent, acute care facility risk principles, risk assessment, infection control, and malpractice and insurance.

While this program initially focused on healthcare management, it has evolved over the years to include institutional risk and patient safety.

  • Location: Gainsville, FL
  • Duration: 40 hours
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $349 for the entire course

How Long Does it Take to Become a Healthcare Risk Manager?

Some professionals can embark on a career as a healthcare risk manager with four years of education post-high school. However, taking an additional two years or so to complete a master’s degree is the most common.

How To Become a Healthcare Risk Manager – Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Graduate from High School or Complete a GED (Four Years)

While it may seem trivial, graduating from high school or completing a GED is the first step in a career as a healthcare risk manager. Not only does it lay a knowledge foundation, but a GED or high school diploma is also often required for admission to a bachelor’s degree program. Students should focus on math, business, and language arts classes to prepare them for additional studies.

Step 2: Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree (Four Years)

Aspiring healthcare risk managers need to complete at least a bachelor’s degree in order to have the necessary knowledge and skills for this job. There are two options as far as choosing majors.

Students can enroll in a school with a specific healthcare risk management program, or they can attend a school where they can complete a business, healthcare administration, or risk management degree, with the intent of completing on-the-job training or additional education.

Step 3: Obtain Certification (Optional, Timelines Vary)

Healthcare risk managers can earn voluntary certification to demonstrate a high level of competency in this field. The primary certification earned is the Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management (CPHRM) through the American Hospital Association (AHA). Details on how to earn this certification can be found below.

Step 4: Complete a Master’s degree (Optional, Timelines Vary)

Professionals working in healthcare risk management may find that earning a master’s degree can be extremely helpful. Not only can it help with advancement opportunities, but it can also increase earning and employability.

What Do Healthcare Risk Managers Do?

Healthcare risk managers work primarily in large healthcare organizations, including diagnostic laboratories, hospitals, clinics, medical groups, and insurance companies. They are typically members of the leadership team, although, in larger organizations, they may not.

Day-to-day duties vary based on place of employment but can include:

  • Designing and implementing a risk mitigation strategy
  • Assessing current risk
  • Evaluating how risks have been handled in the past
  • Working with other members of the leadership team to establish the organization’s risk tolerance
  • Preparing risk management and insurance budgets
  • Conducting audits to ensure protocols are being adhered to
  • Educating staff about risks and protocols to mitigate risk
  • Purchasing insurance for the organization
  • Maintaining records of incidents, insurance, and claims

Healthcare Risk Manager Certifications & Licensure

Certification for healthcare risk managers is voluntary. However, certification is highly sought after by employers and can help increase advancement opportunities and pay. The primary certification for healthcare risk managers is the Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management (CPHRM) through the American Hospital Association.

In order to be eligible for the CPHRM certification, candidates must have either a bachelor’s and five years of work experience, an associate degree and seven years of work experience, or a high school diploma and nine years of work experience. The work experience must be in healthcare.

Candidates must also have at least 3,000 documented hours in healthcare risk management in the past three years. Once eligibility has been determined, candidates may sit for the exam. This test consists of 110 questions and costs $275 for members and $475 for non-members. Topics covered include:

  • Clinical and patient safety
  • Risk financing
  • Legal and regulatory
  • Healthcare operations
  • Claims and litigation

Recertification is required every three years, and certificate holders must complete 45 hours of continuing education.

Currently, there are no requirements for healthcare risk managers to obtain state licensing. However, healthcare managers who work in long-term care facilities are required to be licensed in many states. It is prudent for healthcare risk managers to check with their local licensing boards to ensure they have the necessary credentials and qualifications to perform their job.

How Much Do Healthcare Risk Managers Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020), healthcare risk managers are classified as medical and health services managers. On average, they earn $118,800 per year. Here were the percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $59,980
  • 25th percentile: $78,820
  • 50th percentile (median): $104,280
  • 75th percentile: $139,650
  • 90th percentile: $195,630

Healthcare Risk Managers Career Alternatives

Here are a few alternatives to a career as a healthcare risk manager.

Become a Medical and Health Services Manager

Any large organization needs high-quality management, and healthcare is no different. Hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies employ medical and health service managers to tend to the business side of healthcare, freeing up medical staff to take care of patients.

  • Typical Education: Bachelor’s
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: Professional Association of Healthcare Office Management (PAHCOM)

Become a Health Data Analyst

The data that is gathered in healthcare facilities must be analyzed in order to be useful. Health data analysts use their skills and education to turn all that information into usable data that management can then use to make decisions.

  • Typical Education: Bachelor’s
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

Become a Health Information Manager

Healthcare facilities generate massive amounts of data. Health information managers work at healthcare organizations to manage, gather, and analyze that data. They will also draw conclusions based on the data that will help organizations make data-driven decisions.

  • Typical Education: Bachelor’s
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson

Writer

Kimmy is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about healthcare careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor’s offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning and that drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.

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