What Does a Practice Manager Do? (And How To Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 23 August 2021

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.

Practice managers supervise all the administrative, human resources and business features of a practice. Businesses need practice managers to ensure every aspect of the office runs smoothly. If you have strong organisational skills and a good sense of leadership, you may benefit from learning more about this role. In this article, we discuss the role of a practice manager, how to become one, and the skills needed to succeed in the role.

What does a practice manager do?

A practice manager takes care of the finances, human resources, the administrative team and many other areas. Here is a broad view of some of the responsibilities and duties in the role of a practice manager:

  • Making sure the office opens and closes on time.

  • Setting staff hours and meetings.

  • Ensuring compliance and certificate guidelines are up to date for the practice and employees.

  • Managing the front office staff, ensuring staff satisfaction and performance.

  • Hiring and training new employees.

  • Negotiating prices with suppliers of extra services such as office supplies, waste removal, and cleaning services.

  • Organising a positive working environment through staff celebrations and events.

  • Arranging staff training for compliance.

  • Liaising with other pharmaceutical and medical companies.

  • Managing finances such as accounts payable and receivable.

  • Designing procedures and streamlining workloads to keep the practice running smoothly.

  • Writing and upholding office policies and procedures.

  • Managing any conflict between staff or customers such as offering solutions to unhappy clients.

  • Overseeing databases.

  • Ensuring records are kept and backed up.

Related Reading: Job Outlook: Practice Managers

How to become a practice manager

Below is a list of steps to consider taking when becoming a practice manager:

1. Gain a qualification

You may want to begin with a diploma. A Diploma of Practice Management could be a suitable choice. Other options may be a Diploma of Leadership and Management, a Certificate IV in Health Administration, or a Certificate III in Business Administration. These all take approximately one year to complete.

2. Undertake further study

If you are passionate about excelling as a practice manager, you may consider doing further study. A bachelor's degree in business management, public health or health and information management could be applicable choices.

Some practice managers earn their master's degrees as well. Although they are essentially the same, there is a Master of Healthcare Management or Master in Healthcare Administration. You can also choose to get a Master of Business Administration. These degrees can give you the chance to be an expert and excel and stand out in your field.

3. Find a practice manager job

Next, you can look for jobs. Start by searching online for a practice manager position. This career path lends itself to opportunities for career progression. Practice manager jobs may vary depending on the practice you work in.

A career in practice management may allow you to work on-site in several different areas of the medical field. There are a few other industries that need practice managers too. Here are a few types of environments you can apply to work in:

  • Medical

  • Orthopaedic

  • Physiotherapy

  • Chiropractic

  • Dental

  • Legal

  • Veterinary

  • Accounting

  • Architectural

What makes a great practice manager?

During your study, you can usually cover administration, management and clerical work. There are other skills that can help you become a great practice manager:

Communication skills

Practice managers interact with many different kinds of people. Patients and their families need empathy and kindness in their communications with medical professionals. Practice managers can also be polite and professional when talking to salespeople and vendors. Most importantly, they can communicate successfully with their immediate reception staff.

Related reading: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Conflict resolution skills

The practice manager is often the first point of contact when a dispute arises. Disputes between patients and staff can often occur in medical clinics or hospitals. This can be due to wait times, for example. Practice managers can mediate situations and take the best course of action for resolution.

Related Reading: How To Grow your Conflict Resolution skills.

Organisational skills

The position of a practice manager can be very broad. They may oversee several aspects of the practice at once. So, organisational skills can be highly beneficial. Practitioners may feel less pressure if everything around them is running smoothly. Great practice managers can work with staff to prioritise tasks and make deadlines.

Related reading: Top Organisational Skills For Your Resume and Workplace

Leadership skills

Practice managers may rely on exceptional leadership skills. A practice manager usually needs the ability to delegate tasks and ensure their teams are performing optimally. Efficient practice managers may try to lead by example. When team members can see their leader working hard, they are often inspired to increase productivity with a positive attitude.

Related reading: Top 6 Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

Business skills

A practice manager can develop the knowledge of and experience in how to run a company. The ultimate goal of a practice is to serve patients effectively. You can acquire skills from a university that can aid you with the technical side of this career, but business knowledge comes from experience and lots of practice. Key elements include planning skills, a clear vision and strong objectives.

How much does a practice manager earn?

A practice manager may work in a variety of different practices both big and small. For example, they may work in a small-scale dental clinic or a large hospital. A practice manager's salary also depends on where they live. The average national salary of a practice manager is $79,260. However, the average salary in each city can differ:

  • Melbourne Victoria: $82,810

  • Sydney New South Wales: $85,498

  • Adelaide South Australia: $63,796

  • Darwin Northern Territory: $87,712

  • Hobart Tasmania: $63,460

  • Perth Western Australia: $72,255

  • Canberra Australian Capital Territory: $89,655

  • Brisbane Queensland: $67,333

Working conditions for practice managers

Although practice managers work in many types of practices, some working conditions remain consistent. It's essentially the job of a practice manager to create the working conditions of an office; to make it safe, positive and functional. Below is what the working conditions of a practice manager often look like:

  • Using hardware such as computers, mobile phones, laptops, and tablets

  • Spending most of your day sitting at a desk in front of a computer or helping staff

  • Using office software programs and data storage software daily

  • Spending time on the phone

  • Running staff meetings related to procedures

Frequently asked questions

Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions about the role of a practice manager:

Are there different levels of being a practice manager?

There are a few steps involved in becoming an established and successful practice manager. As such, there is a general trajectory a budding practice manager may follow in reaching their goal:

Workplace coordinator

Some practices may have workplace coordinators. Workplace coordinators support the practice by practically organising the reception and common areas. They oversee all the building's services and deliveries while supporting the staff.

Junior practice manager

A junior practice manager manages their team and works under the business manager. Their role is less intense than that of a senior practice manager. Their role is to put policies and procedures in place and to manage the team so they run smoothly, whilst dealing with any issues.

Senior practice manager

A senior practice manager handles the development and operations. Senior practice managers supervise all the administrative and business aspects of a company. Businesses need practice managers to ensure the office runs smoothly and the staff work effectively.

Multi-site practice manager

A Multi-site practice manager usually has the same role as a senior practice manager but handles the operations of many practices. They often meet with stakeholders and lead teams across all sites.

What are the benefits of being a practice manager?

As the leader of your workplace, you can create a positive environment for both patients and employees. You can choose the industry that you want to work in based on your interests. You can also have the potential to make each day a good one for your staff and the practice by creating the ideal workplace culture.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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