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What Does It Take to Be a Healthcare Project Manager?

Hispanic female nurse in pink scrubs reviewing a patients chart in front of a cart full of chartsProject management in healthcare is a popular career choice for those who want to make an impact on healthcare delivery. If you’re ready for the challenge, there are many jobs out there. Project manager roles will expand by 12 percent, or 6.2 million jobs, by 2020 in the U.S., according to the Project Management Institute’s Talent Gap Report.2

Read on and find out what a healthcare project manager career is all about and whether it’s right for you.

Healthcare Project Manager: A Job Description

As a hospital or healthcare project manager, you would oversee a wide variety of projects within an organization. These include everything from building a new wing, to hiring doctors for a new medical specialty, to initiating a plan to increase emergency response by 10%.

Part of being a project manager is also being able to identify issues, provide solutions, delegate tasks and monitor progress to stay on schedule and on budget. The job also involves frequent communication about projects with departments, a hospital board or others who control budget decisions.3

A typical day for a healthcare project manager is very fast-paced with constant deadlines. You’ll have to manage multiple projects and different personalities within your organization.3, 4

Healthcare Project Management: Required Skills

A project manager quickly becomes the center of activity and change. They have to be able to handle stressful situations and keep calm under pressure. Other desired qualities and skills include:

Interpersonal skills. A project manager has to be able to listen, communicate effectively and clearly, and collaborate with many people inside and outside of an organization.

Leadership skills. You have to be the person people look to for answers and project updates. You will lead projects and motivate others to complete them according to budgets, schedules and standards.

Problem solving skills. A project manager faces many unexpected challenges to meet goals and schedules. They need to be able to find solutions and resolve issues in a timely manner either collaboratively or on their own. 

Multitasking skills. Being a project manager involves personal organization and setting up processes that become second nature. In addition, a project manager juggles several projects at a time, often with conflicting schedules.

Flexibility. As a project manager you need to be flexible when issues will arise that threaten project goals.3, 4

Each project manager brings unique talents to the table, but these are some core qualities that allow you to become a leader.
    

Healthcare Project Management Education

Many healthcare project managers have a bachelor’s degree in relevant areas such as health administration, health management, nursing, public health administration or business administration.5

An advanced degree with a specialized focus gets you noticed. Business administration courses and healthcare management courses give you a broad background to get started in a healthcare project management career.

Job listings for project managers in the healthcare industry increasingly asking for specific certifications, as hospitals are looking to hire professionals who can help improve efficiencies as demand increases.2, 8

There are several different organizations offering certifications, it’s best to do research and find which one meets your needs. Certifications aren’t required for project managers, but can give you an edge over the competition.2, 5 The Project Management Institute (PMI), for example, offers many different certifications, here are two worth looking into: 

The Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification  

  • Validates competence to perform as a project manager. 
  • Is recognized worldwide and can be used for workers in healthcare, IT, construction, telecommunications and finance.6

The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) Certification 

  • Demonstrates an understanding of fundamentals, terminology and processes of effective project management.
  • Is recognized worldwide and can be used for workers in healthcare, IT, construction, telecommunications and finance.

According to a PMI study, organizations that have more than one-third of their project managers certified tend to perform better.7 Again, certifications aren’t mandatory, but they can give you the expectations of the job across all industries. 

Is Project Management the Career for You?

If healthcare project management sounds like something you would excel at and enjoy, then completing business administration and healthcare management courses can provide you with the knowledge and skillset to help you start your career. If you want to stand out as a top candidate and move forward quickly in your career, pursuing a MBA in healthcare management will help you achieve your goals. 

To download a comprehensive career guide to Healthcare Management, click here.

References:

1 "The 100 Best Jobs,” U.S. News & World Report. http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/the-100-best-jobs​
2  http://www.pmi.org/learning/publications/pmi-today 
3  http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Project_Manager,_Hospital/Salary
4  http://www.cio.com/article/2896325/project-manager/do-you-have-what-it-takes-to-be-a-project-manager.html
5  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-4
6  http://www.pmi.org/certification.aspx
7  http://www.pmi.org/Certification/What-are-PMI-Certifications.aspx
8  http://www.pmi.org/learning/publications/pmi-today