Healthcare Administration: A Career Path for Those Passionate About Healthcare and Management
Healthcare administration is one of the occupations with the highest growth rate in the US. This field has various careers, including department manager, health care facility coordinator, and clinical and laboratory manager. It is a popular choice for those passionate about the health care system but who think that something other than directly working with patients suits them.
What is healthcare administration?
Healthcare administration encapsulates managers’ leadership positions in nursing homes, hospitals, and medical offices. The healthcare managers in these settings have many responsibilities, including operations, policies, strategy, finance, management, and more.
A healthcare administrator is an administrative professional tasked with directing the operations of a healthcare organization. Unlike nurses and physicians, administrators do not deal directly with patients regularly. On the contrary, their jobs entail creating policies, making requisite changes, and leading the organization to provide the best possible care for patients.
Administrators are responsible for long-term and everyday decisions impacting the healthcare setting. They boast several titles depending on the environment they are performing. These titles include:
- Hospital administrator
- Healthcare executive
- Nursing home manager
- Medical and health services manager
- Administrative manager
- Health care manager
Over the years, the US population has been aging, resulting in a rise in demand for healthcare services. Consequently, there has been an increased need for more healthcare administrators. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare occupations will increase compared to other occupational groups between 2021 and 2031. The bureau predicts there will be around 2 million job openings nationwide, an equivalent rate of 13%.
Apart from job openings, the BLS forecasts that additional opportunities will open up due to people leaving the industry and retirements. It estimates that there are about 1.9 million openings yearly on average from growth and replacement needs. So, this will be an excellent career for one to pursue.
Healthcare administration offers robust salaries too. The median annual salaries of healthcare administrators stood at about $100,000, with the figure expected to grow.
What are the roles and responsibilities of healthcare administrators?
Healthcare administrators are responsible for managing an organization’s operational aspects. Their responsibilities will differ depending on the organization, location, and other variables. For instance, some administrators will do bulk paperwork for their organization, while others may be responsible for managing staff. On the other hand, some might be responsible for overseeing the administrative work in an organization.
Healthcare systems can be complex and multifaceted, ranging from entire hospital systems to smaller entities such as home care agencies or physician practices. Within these systems, there may be specific clinical areas such as nursing care facilities, physical therapy practices, outpatient clinics, and individual departments like the critical care unit, emergency room, or intensive care unit.
Healthcare managers play a critical role in ensuring that these facilities operate smoothly and provide high-quality healthcare services. Their duties can include enhancing efficiency, allocating resources, ensuring compliance with laws and regulations, and serving as a representative for the facility at meetings. They are also responsible for recruiting and training staff, finding ways to improve productivity, and coordinating equipment and services.
In addition, healthcare managers may be responsible for introducing innovations, overseeing outsourced business services, providing information to healthcare providers about new regulations, and developing emergency plans for unforeseen events. They communicate with caregivers, healthcare providers, and staff members about policies and procedures and offer quality improvement programs to ensure the best possible care for patients. Collaborating with other members of the organization, healthcare managers help set goals, develop plans, and implement strategies to achieve the facility’s aspirations.
Healthcare administration work settings
Healthcare administrators boast an array of skills and competencies that allow them to work in various work settings. The list below offers a look at the places where healthcare administrators can work:
Healthcare organizations center their leadership around hospital administrators. It is one of the most demanding jobs in the healthcare field, and administrators must demonstrate the ability to work with different professionals and have excellent leadership and business skills.
· Long-term care facilities
Healthcare administrators can also work in long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living. Two main trends have led to the surge of healthcare administrators in long-term care facilities. To begin with, the US population is continuously growing older. The number of Americans who attained 65 years was 52 million in 2014, and it is expected to reach 95 million by 2060.
Second, there has been a need for long-term care facilities to enhance their performance and quality. Administrators are a perfect fit to address the issue since they possess the skills to make facilities improve their services.
Healthcare managers in care facility settings offer vital services. They ensure the organizations have financial health and bring the needed quality to ensure the facilities deliver excellent services. In addition, they coordinate with outpatient care and hospitals to help manage chronic conditions so that seniors do not undergo unnecessary readmissions.
· Public health administration
Public healthcare offers opportunities for individuals with MHA degrees. The overall population is growing, and the demand for services in public settings is also increasing. The following are some of the notable areas where the services will be needed:
Schools, colleges, and universities – Most educational settings offer healthcare services to their students. In broader settings, the services can require large operations, with administrators overseeing and managing personnel, care quality, and budgets which are usually very tight.
Prisons – State and private contract prisons, as well as county jails, provide healthcare to inmates. The services include emergencies from injuries or illnesses and routine physicals from long-term stays. It is vital for public healthcare administrators to know regulatory needs, inmate rights, and the whole government bureaucracy to ensure efficiency and quality in operations management.
Public health clinics – Providing preventive healthcare services through public health clinics is one of the essential government services. The settings may also provide treatment services and disease management, especially to the uninsured. These clinics usually operate in accessible community locations, offering family planning, primary care, and at times, dental care. Some have expanded services such as women’s care, internal medicine, and pediatrics. An administrator will work to ensure the effective use of public funds in these programs.
Private practice groups – Most physicians in the US operate as part of large group practices. A healthcare administrator handles the business side of the group, overseeing finances, operations, and staff so that doctors can focus on patient care.
A typical day in the life of a healthcare administrator
The management of a healthcare facility may comprise keeping track of finances, directing personnel, or making operational decisions. Large healthcare facilities such as hospitals might have specific administrators responsible for particular management areas. Below are the general tasks a healthcare administrator may finish daily:
· Attend meetings
Healthcare administrators liaise with medical and administrative staff, including technicians, physicians, and nurses. They attend meetings with physicians to understand better how the organization is running and the issues the medical personnel might face.
The administrators might also participate in meetings with community leaders to represent their healthcare facilities. Furthermore, an administrator might also be responsible for attending fundraising planning since many hospitals are nonprofit organizations.
· Manage staff
Another task of a healthcare administrator is overseeing the recruitment, hiring, and training of new staff members. This means they are responsible for creating schedules for these staff members and resolving any conflicts that may arise among team members. Administrators ought to have a strong management and human resources background to attain efficient staff management.
· Coordinate health services
A healthcare administrator ensures that their facility provides the best and most appropriate services. They contract and work out deals with third-party providers, such as office and medical supply companies, to ensure their administrative and medical staff have the necessary resources to perform their tasks effectively.
· Handling finances
Healthcare managers are responsible for developing budgets and ensuring they are adhered to. They also review financial reports, analyze financial data, and make the organization’s financial decisions.
· Analyzing quality data
Administrators analyze quality data regularly to find trends and patterns that can help improve operations and patient care. They work with staff members to address issues identified through quality data analysis.
· Maintain compliance
Healthcare administrators are responsible for staying updated on the latest trends, news, and changes in the healthcare industry. They need to know any changing standards in health care policies and practices so that their organization stays compliant.
· Managing daily operations
Every organization needs a person in charge of its daily operations. Healthcare administrators are responsible for ensuring facilities run smoothly and efficiently. They ensure the organization provides quality patient care while functioning within the budget and complying with applicable regulations and laws.
The job outlook for healthcare administrators
With the healthcare industry growing, the job outlook for a career in healthcare management remains positive. The BLS estimates employment for healthcare administrators to grow by 28% from 2021 to 2031. This rate is significantly higher than the 5% average growth rate for all occupations.
The BLS indicates that group practices, nursing care facilities, and health practitioners’ offices will have the lion’s share of the growth. Here are some of the factors that will contribute to this tremendous growth:
· Population growth
The US population is set to grow to around 458 million by 2050. The increase in the number of people will necessitate more healthcare services and healthcare service providers. Consequently, there will be a growth in the need for more healthcare managers, just like in other areas of the healthcare industry.
· Baby boomers and an aging population
There is a steadily aging population in the US. This includes many baby boomers who are reaching their senior years, impacting the number of needed healthcare jobs.
The number of people above sixty-five is expected to grow faster than any age group. Compared to a younger population, this aging population necessitates greater healthcare requirements. For this reason, there will be additional jobs in the healthcare industry and many new positions for healthcare managers and providers.
· Chronic conditions
As mentioned earlier, there will be an increase in the average age among the population in general. Thus, there will be more people with chronic ailments such as diabetes seeking treatment. More healthcare employees must treat, manage, or prevent health-related concerns due to chronic conditions. Consequently, the demand will affect most employment areas in healthcare, such as the need for more employees with specialized degrees in the healthcare administration sector.
· Medical enhancements
Technology is affecting all facets of modern life. Innovations are coming up daily to make conducting various tasks in different sectors easier.
The healthcare industry has not been left behind regarding innovations and advancements. These technologies affect the demand for healthcare services and the industry’s growth. As a result, there are more jobs for those with degrees and certifications in healthcare management.
Healthcare reforms in the US have resulted in drastic changes in the healthcare sector. New policies will continue to be formulated to ensure Americans have sufficient healthcare coverage, increasing the number of individuals seeking routine medical care. These changes will cause a significant increase in the healthcare job segment.
Becoming a healthcare administrator
These are the steps that may help individuals create a career path and become a healthcare administrator:
· Obtain a bachelor’s degree in the required field
The first step one needs to take is acquiring a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or a related field such as business or public health. The undergraduate coursework must include a blend of healthcare and business courses to prepare one for the job duties.
· Acquire work experience in healthcare administration
It is beneficial to gain real-world experience before pursuing a higher level of education. Some MHA programs require up to 3 years of working experience, while others may prefer applicants currently working in the field.
While not all master’s programs may require work experience, having some will go a long way in assisting you to stand out in the competitive program. You can apply for a level entry job, complete an internship, or work part-time while undertaking your bachelor’s degree.
Practicing healthcare administration is the best way to gain experience, but one can also get relevant experience in a different but related role. For example, you can work for the human resource management of a hospital or coordinate billing at a physician’s office.
· Consider an MHA program
The next step is acquiring an MHA program, such as the Telfer Executive Master of Health Administration. It is worth noting that most high-level positions require a graduate degree and earning an MHA will be a great career advancement.
When selecting a program, look for a certification from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education. It shows that the program will adequately prepare you for a healthcare management career.
· Acquire industry certifications
Getting an industry certification will help advance one’s career and improve their job prospects. Many certifications are available, including CHAP, CRCP, CFHP, and CPHQ.
The certification requirements vary but include work experience, education, and membership in the certifying organization. Getting a certificate increases your earning potential and provides opportunities for career advancements and skill expansion through continued education.
· Pursue a job in healthcare administration
After the competition of your bachelor’ and master’s degrees, gaining requisite experience, and earning the proper certifications, you are now ready to start looking for a job in the healthcare administration field. It is vital to narrow your search to a specific area like hospitals, nursing homes, or outpatient clinics. One needs to go for a work environment that aligns best with their career goals and other needs, such as hours and salary.
Why go for a healthcare administrator career?
A career in healthcare administration can be an excellent way to combine administrative and management skills to cater to patients. Healthcare managers earn an excellent salary, with the average annual estimate being just over $100,000 a year.
As in any field, compensation is dependent on one’s experience. So, one becomes more valuable and gets better pay as one progresses in their career.
Other benefits of a career in healthcare administration include the following:
Different opportunities – There are various opportunities for qualified professionals in this field. Also, managers can work in different work settings and environments depending on their preferences and needs.
Job security – While many fields do not guarantee job security, a career in healthcare administration does. The demand for professionals in the sector is high, and opportunities are set to continue growing.
Making a difference – The career allows you to have a mark in the lives of different patients.