How to Become a Clinical Operations Manager (With Steps)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 28, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you want to change patients' lives and contribute to improving the quality of care they receive, clinical operations management can be a rewarding career. Responsibilities may include developing new practices, dealing with health care crises, reducing waiting at check-in, or booking appointments more effectively. Learning more about the role of a clinical operations manager can help you decide if this is the career for you. In this article, we define what a clinical operations manager is, describe their key duties and skills, share steps on how to become one, and review several professional groups you can join.

What is a clinical operations manager?

A clinical operations manager, also known as a director of clinical operations or a medical and health services manager, oversees the daily operations of a medical and health care clinic. These professionals oversee the efficient operations of health-related organizations. They ensure the completion of tasks on time, within budget, and in accordance with current laws and regulations. A clinical operations manager may manage a group of clinical supervisors, communicate with other company divisions, and serve as a vital information resource in their department.

Clinical operations managers have a wide range of responsibilities across multiple areas. Their focus, irrespective of where they work, is to ensure that patients receive high-quality care, general functions operate efficiently, and staff are happy and engaged. Some of their duties and responsibilities include:

  • examining treatment methods and technology to ensure that they meet industry standards and laws

  • creating treatment regimens based on medical guidelines or other regulations

  • monitoring patients' conditions throughout their hospital stay, such as medication administration, specimen collection, and progress tracking

  • working with doctors and other staff members to manage the number of patients in a medical facility

  • making sure that all staff adhere to acceptable patient care procedures and safety policies and procedures

  • coordinating with other organizations, including home health care providers, pharmacists, insurance providers, and social assistance departments

  • maintaining accurate and up-to-date medical records, including communication with other departments, such as radiology, to book appointments

  • managing patient flow during registration, check-in, laboratory tests, surgical intervention, recovery, discharge, and aftercare service

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How to become a clinical operations manager

The following steps outline how to become a clinical operations manager:

1. Obtain a bachelor's degree

Many employers require clinical operations managers to have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as health care administration. This degree includes fundamental training in communication and leadership skills and an overview of the health care sector. In rare cases, you may begin working at an institution prior to receiving your degree and gradually develop within the institution to become a clinical operations manager. Many people consider it advantageous to begin their careers with a bachelor's degree.

Related: 25 Top Health Care Jobs in Canada (With Duties and Salaries)

2. Gain work experience

It's vital to spend some time building the core competencies you employ in this role, whether you acquire the experience in the workplace or the classroom. Most students build competence during their undergraduate studies, while some work in similar fields before taking on this role. You can obtain valuable experience as an entry-level administrator in a wide range of settings, including:

  • community health clinics

  • private clinics

  • public hospitals

  • residential establishments

  • outpatient clinics

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3. Advance your education

While it's not compulsory, some employers expect candidates for these roles to have a master's degree, licence, or other ongoing training beyond a bachelor's degree. There are several master's degree alternatives to consider, including a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a relevant focus or a Master of Health Care Administration. Other fields of study are public administration, health management, and nursing. MBAs focus on the economic aspects of health care, while terminal degrees provide greater training in health care policies. In the dynamic world of health care, it's important that you remain passionate and current with the latest research, technologies, and regulations.

Related: 10 Jobs You Can Get with an MBA in Health Care Management

4. Pursue certification

Although licensure conditions vary by province, most of them require you to obtain a licence to work in a nursing home or long-term care institution. Licensing of medical and health service administrators may not be a prerequisite by law, but the health care facility may demand it. Although qualification to take certification examinations varies by organization, most expect you to graduate from an educational program and have some job experience.

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5. Join professional groups

Professional organizations enable you to keep current in your profession by offering education, networking opportunities, and other services. Membership benefits you in providing continuing education in addition to the opportunity to socialize with other professionals. It also enables those entering the industry to obtain information, such as scholarship requirements. Networking as a clinical operations management student is essential for career progression. It can also be helpful for your personal development to maintain a high level of competence and professionalism in the area.

6. Apply for open positions

If you have the qualifications and a few years of relevant experience, you can apply for a position as a clinical operations manager. Check that your resume is up to date and includes relevant experience, qualifications, and educational credentials. In addition to your resume, write a cover letter in which you explain how you're a suitable candidate for the position and how your expertise can benefit the organization.

Related: Common Health Care Interview Questions and Sample Answers

Essential skills for a clinical operations manager

The following skills are key to becoming an effective clinical operations manager:

  • Organization and time management: Clinical operations managers typically oversee several concurrent obligations each day, often with time limits. To complete these projects on schedule, you need excellent time management and organization skills.


  • Communication and interpersonal: Your interactions with members of the community, health care providers, and other professionals necessitate strong communication skills, such as listening, writing, and presenting. You may also interact with clinical professionals and department heads.


  • Attention to detail: Your role as a clinical operations manager entails budget administration, scheduling, and problem solving, all of which necessitate attention to detail.


  • Management and administration: Clinical operations managers spend most of their time monitoring budgets and managing teams. You may also examine new legislation to assist the business in adapting to industry developments.


  • Analysis and decision-making: Clinical operations managers typically evaluate and interpret data to communicate its meaning to others. It's important that you're capable of making timely resource decisions while ensuring that patients receive quality care.


  • Problem-solving: As a clinical operations manager, you detect and solve problems, such as inefficiencies in budgeting processes, on a daily basis. Providing timely solutions whenever health care issues arise improves the quality of service.


  • Critical thinking: You may face numerous challenging situations on a daily basis. Critical thinking can help you address them effectively with awareness and compassion.

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Professional groups for clinical operation managers

Here are some professional organizations you can join as a clinical operations manager:

  • The Canadian Public Health Association is an independent voice promoting public health with international connections. As the only national non-governmental organization solely dedicated to public health, it's in an ideal position to assist decision-makers on public health system reform and to guide programs to promote personal and communal health.


  • The Canadian College of Health Leaders is a national member-driven, non-profit association that produces, engages, and motivates health leaders. The college aims to give members the leadership development, tools, information, and networks they require to become high-impact leaders in health care.


  • The Canadian Health Information Management Association is a national professional association for those working in the health information field, representing over 5,800 members. It promotes the health care information profession, analyzes industry trends, fosters networking, advocates continuous education, and also links members with available jobs in the industry.


  • The Medical Group Management Association of Canada was formed in 1967 from a network of clinic managers who wanted to share their knowledge. As a group of managers facing comparable issues, they work together to enhance daily operations.


  • The Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research (CAHSPR) is a professional organization seeking to improve health and health care by promoting the quality, value, and implementation of health services and health policy research. CAHSPR offers members unparalleled networking opportunities, research collaboration, and professional growth.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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