What does a Practice Manager do?

Luanne Kelchner

A practice manager handles the business and human resources side of a medical practice, whether it's a doctor's office, dental practice or veterinary practice. A successful practice manager must have organizational, communication and social skills to work in the position. As a manager, the person in this position oversees the work of the rest of the office staff and ensures that the practice operates smoothly and efficiently. The position may also require the manager to hire outside vendors, such as a cleaning service to keep the practice and offices clean.

A practice manager of a small clinic may spend much of her time on administrative and clerical tasks.
A practice manager of a small clinic may spend much of her time on administrative and clerical tasks.

Practice managers are skilled leaders who direct the activities of office workers such as schedulers, medical billers and receptionists. A practice manager must hire new staff and evaluate the job performance of existing staff members. This entails ensuring that each staff member is properly trained for the position he or she fills in the office. Managing staff requires someone who is skilled in communicating effectively with employees.

A practice manager may be employed at a dental practice.
A practice manager may be employed at a dental practice.

The practice manager also prepares income and expense reports for the medical office, pays the bills for the practice, and purchases supplies and equipment when necessary. Financial duties for a practice manager can include budgeting and planning for the medical practice. The person in this role may also perform marketing duties for the practice.

Medical practice managers must have the ability to move from one task to another throughout the day. Ensuring that a medical office runs smoothly can be a challenge, and management staff must be able to handle crises and staff problems when they occur. A successful practice manager can work on multiple projects during the course of the day while making sure the rest of the office staff members have what they need to complete their duties.

In a small medical practice, managers may only be required to have a high school education and experience working in a medical office setting. Larger practices and administrator positions usually require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business or administration to hold the position. Practice managers must be proficient in computers and office software programs such as spreadsheets and word processing. Certificate programs for medical office management are also available for those entering this field.

The position offers many challenges. Those managers who want even more of a challenge can advance to an administrator position with additional education and experience. A master’s degree in health services administration can open the door to positions with larger medical practices, nursing care businesses, mental health facilities and clinics.

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