2012 Salary Survey Results

The uncertainty in healthcare brings more demand for risk managers

Advanced nursing degree, not business, may open doors

Risk manager, your time has come. With all the turmoil in the healthcare industry from changes associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), moves toward electronic records, and an increased focus on fraud from government regulators, you might be in more demand than ever before.

That’s the assessment of John Fulcher, CSAM, director of the healthcare division of Bauer Consulting Group, an executive recruiting company based in El Paso, TX. Fulcher is filling several executive-level risk management positions for healthcare clients, and he expects the field to be hot for the near future.

“I haven’t done much risk management placement in recent years, but just in the past few months I’ve been hit with multiple requests for risk management and quality positions,” Fulcher says. “A lot of it is tied to the initiatives kicking in with Obamacare. As more of the requirements kick in and bring with them all sorts of questions and risks, there’s going to be an uptick in interest for risk management, quality, infection control, all of these areas. Definitely an area of growth.”

The increase is consistent across the country, Fulcher says. The greatest interest in risk management expertise is at the corporate level, rather than individual hospitals, he says. Many health care corporations are creating or expanding roles for risk managers in which they oversee facilities at a regional level, he says. (See the results of the 2012 Healthcare Risk Management Salary Survey, below.)

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“I’m seeing layers being created, new positions rather than just filling a slot left open by someone’s departure,” Fulcher says. “I usually explain to people I’m recruiting why the position is open, but lately I’m telling them that it’s a newly created position, and I don’t get to say that much. In healthcare there are not usually a lot of newly created positions.”

The best way to position yourself for these new positions, or to advance otherwise in risk management, is to further your education, Fulcher says. Many risk managers have a bachelor’s level education, which often is sufficient, he says. But to take advantage of growing opportunities, Fulcher advises risk managers to seek a master’s in nursing.

“Managers tend to think they should get MBAs, but a lot of times the hospitals and health systems want their risk managers to have MSNs,” he says. “They’ll look at MBAs, but if you have to go head to head with another applicant, all other qualifications being the same but you have different degrees, they’re going to lean toward the master’s in nursing side. I saw a candidate get rejected yesterday because they wanted a master’s in nursing and she had a master’s in health administration, and she was already doing the job they wanted.”

Another important qualification is longevity in a risk management position. Particularly for younger risk managers or those who have migrated to the field from other healthcare positions, staying in one risk management role for a few years will add gravitas to your qualifications aside from your education, Fulcher says. (See p. 1 for survey results on longevity in the field.)

“Longevity is huge right now. We know that younger generations are more likely to move around, and that’s just a factor of their generation and the recent economy. But if you’re looking to position yourself for forward growth, you definitely need to try to stay stable,” Fulcher says. “Don’t move around because you had a bad day at work. The longer you are unemployed, the more your stock goes down.”

That advice holds true particularly if you find yourself in a good position even though your credentials are not top notch, Fulcher says. He occasionally encounters health professionals who are looking for a better position, but then he finds that he would have difficulty placing them in the same level of their current work.

“I tell those people to stay where you are because you’re not going to do any better. Hold on to this position because you’re not going to do any better without seriously improving your credentials,” Fulcher says. “That can happen sometimes when a person is good at what they do, and maybe the employer hired from within or didn’t use the highest standards. If that’s the case, don’t be lured away just because there are new positions opening up.”

Fulcher urges risk managers to constantly be on the lookout for ways to improve their value to employers through education, credentialing, work with professional associations, and anything else that promotes you as an exceptional, highly involved risk manager.

“Get your name out there any way you can,” he says. “Be the master of your profession, and put yourself in that top 1 or 2%. Those are the people we go after, and those are the people that get hired first.”


  • John Fulcher, CSAM, Director, Healthcare Division, Bauer Consulting Group, El Paso, TX. Telephone: (915) 594-9400. Email: john@bauerconsultinggroup.com.

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Risk managers see little improvement in income

For the fourth straight year, income for risk managers has remained steady with no appreciable increase. In most years that would not be great news, but considering how the poor economy has affected other employees across the country, holding steady might be a blessing.

The exclusive 2012 Healthcare Risk Management Salary Survey was sent to 1,155 readers in the June 2012 issue. A total of 66 were returned, for a response rate of 5.7%. The results were tabulated and analyzed by AHC Media, publisher of HRM.

The median income for healthcare risk managers in this year’s survey is $125,000, the same as the past three years. (See the chart, above.) Income levels had been rising in previous years. About 30% of respondents reported income in the $100,000 to $129,999 range, and 18% reported income of $130,000 or more. Another 12% reported income in the $90,000 to $99,999 range.

The median salary increase over the past year was 1% to 3%, the same as the past few years. (See the chart, above.) About 45% of respondents report salary increases in the 1% to 3% range, up slightly from last year’s 41% and closer to the previous year’s figure of 47%. Eighteen percent report increases in the 4% to 6% range, and 3% reported increases in the 7% to 10% range. One fortunate reader reported an increase of 21% or more.

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Twenty-six percent report that their salaries had not changed this year, and two readers (3%) report a salary decrease.

Seventy-two percent of respondents work for nonprofit healthcare organizations, and 22% work for for-profit providers, with the remainder in educational or government settings. Sixty percent of readers have worked in healthcare for more than 25 years.