A Career in Healthcare Administration: Everything You Need To Know

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industries, with estimates saying it will continue growing at a rate of about 16% into 2030. Due to this growth, there will be a lot of demand for healthcare professionals as well as competent people to run the facilities that make the healthcare industry possible. At the highest levels, these are hospital administrators. Management, especially in healthcare, is a sought-after career option for many people, and those who want to go into management in the healthcare sector need to follow the path of becoming hospital administrators to get into these lucrative management positions. If you are interested in a career in hospital management, this guide will tell you everything you need to thrive in this position.

What is Healthcare Administration?

Before getting on the path to becoming a healthcare administrator, you need to understand what hospital administration is. A healthcare administrator takes care of the day-to-day running of a healthcare facility. Their responsibilities can range from staffing and ensuring the facility is running efficiently to verifying the finances are in order.

Healthcare administrators work in a variety of settings including major hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. One thing to understand is that the role of a healthcare administrator is changing, particularly because of the use of technology in healthcare, as well as the growth of the use of data in ensuring better patient outcomes.

With the field set to grow by about 30% through 2030, there are a lot of opportunities for those interested in healthcare administration. The intersection of business competency and healthcare management can be very attractive for those who want to get into management but do not want to follow the traditional route of working for businesses and other organizations.

What Does a Healthcare Administrator Do?

The roles and responsibilities of a healthcare administrator will vary from one healthcare facility to the other. However, there is a huge overlap of responsibilities where healthcare administrators are concerned. These can include coordinating staff schedules, maintaining proper health records, managing budgets and finances, as well as overseeing salaries and hiring.

Your roles will also include ensuring all rules and regulations are followed especially where they concern policy, ethics, and quality, and addressing the needs of all the staff who work under them.

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In the modern world, healthcare administrators have to do a lot more than handle the duties above. They need to be leaders and managers, handling everything from evidence-based management to assessing and putting in place quality improvement policies.

They also need to learn how to leverage information technology and data analytics in a modern, data-driven world. Administrators must be able to apply various data analytics and quantitative methods and techniques to make informed decisions concerning the healthcare facilities they are in charge of, as well as improvements.

Lastly, they have to be at the forefront of clamoring for change in their healthcare facilities. The world, and with it healthcare, is changing rapidly, and healthcare facilities must adapt. Societal, economic, technological, and political shifts are all around us and healthcare administrators have to be at the forefront of ensuring these changes do not negatively impact but rather help bolster their facilities’ standing.

Why is Healthcare Administration Important?

The most significant reason why healthcare administration is so important is that it keeps the healthcare facilities we love running. Administrators do this by ensuring staffing, financing, and the overall running of the healthcare facilities is taken care of. 

They also liaise with suppliers to ensure their doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals have everything they need to take care of their patients. These business skills are acquired during training, with many healthcare administrators already holding a degree in business or a master’s in business or healthcare administration.

Hospital administrators help keep costs down. They do this by working with patients to lower their overall healthcare costs, even if it means working with different insurance providers to make this possible.

Healthcare administrators are essentially managers in the healthcare sector. Due to this, they handle many of the same duties other managers do, including providing the training other healthcare workers need. They are also responsible for the hiring and promotion of different healthcare workers.

They know which positions are open and which need which type of employee. By picking the best candidates and interviewing them to be certain they are right for the positions and responsibilities they will have, healthcare administrators ensure their healthcare facilities only include highly-trained healthcare professionals.

By doing this, healthcare administrators are directly responsible for the level of healthcare their patients receive. They also do this by financing the purchase of modern equipment that leads to better healthcare outcomes. This happens through better monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment using the best equipment and methodologies available to healthcare professionals.

Healthcare administrators also ensure the communities around their healthcare facilities are healthy. Many people think that healthcare professionals online provide their services inside the hospital. This is not true as many hospitals have outreach programs that are organized and funded under the supervision of their healthcare administrators. 

These outreach programs are essential in educating the public about potential health issues and risks. They also help educate the public on what to do to avoid these issues and risks, thus ensuring the health of their communities. By doing so, healthcare administrators reduce the need for the members of their communities to visit the hospital, which is another way they help lower healthcare costs.

Becoming a Healthcare Administrator

To become a hospital administrator, you start by completing a bachelor’s degree. The degree could be in healthcare administration or management, business, public health, or a clinical discipline. Many universities offering degrees in healthcare with a focus on business will often ensure their coursework contains a mix of both healthcare and business coursework to prepare their students.

The next step is getting a graduate degree in healthcare administration, but this cannot happen until you have some experience. The experience should be in management as this will be your primary focus as a hospital administrator. Most universities need 3-7 years of experience in a managerial or similar position. This is to ensure you can handle the rigors of running a complex organization like a healthcare facility.

Some universities offering advanced health administration degrees will also allow you to apply with some experience in a non-managerial position. Because of this, numerous people apply for entry-level internships or work part-time when earning their bachelor’s degrees. This way they have some years of experience by the time they complete their first degree.

Experience in hospital administration might be hard to come by because you need an advanced degree to get a position there. You can therefore work in a related position such as corporate billing or healthcare human resources management.

Complete a Master’s Degree

At this point, most candidates go for a master’s degree in hospital administration. There are also Executive Master of Health Administration (EMHA) programs that lean more towards the business and management side of things. Completing an EMHA with healthcare focus at an accredited university like uOttawa means you get prepared to use your professional experience to succeed as a healthcare administrator.

It is important to complete your EMHA degree at an accredited university because employers know that accredited universities provide up-to-date information to their students. They also know graduates will already have the necessary experience and will be competent enough to fit into healthcare administration roles.

Another thing to consider is whether you should complete a master’s degree in-person or online. An online program provides you with a lot of flexibility and options, especially if you are working when completing the degree. An online degree also means you have a wide selection of universities to choose from and are not limited to the ones in your geographic area.

Find a Job in Healthcare Administration

Once you complete your master’s degree, you are ready to find work in a healthcare administrator position. Before you start your search, make a list of all the places you would like to work. These can be in government facilities, private hospitals, nursing homes, or outpatient clinics. Doing so will help stop you from stretching yourself too much by reaching out to facilities out of your comfort zone you would not be happy to work in.

It is important to remember that some work environments have advantages over others. For example, working for the government or in a hospital offers you the best compensation. However, the workload might be higher and work hours will be longer in these facilities. This will also be the situation in nursing homes and other healthcare facilities that are open 24/7.

If a life-work balance is crucial to you, look for hospital administrator positions in outpatient facilities. Since these facilities are not usually open 24/7, you get regular hours, but the pay will not be comparable to what you might get if you work for the government or in a hospital.

Do note that wherever you decide to work, you need to always be available for emergencies. You will be the main person in charge and people need to reach you in case something happens.

Core Competencies For Healthcare Administrators

To run a healthcare facility, you need to have some skills and qualities that make you a great administrator. These skills are organized into the competencies we will discuss below.

The first key competency is communication and relationship management. As a hospital administrator, you must be able to communicate effectively with different people including staff, patients, their families, suppliers, insurance companies, investors, and many other parties. Communicating clearly and being a good listener will be very important.

Additionally, you should be able to show everyone you talk to that they are important and the information they are passing is too. Doing this can be harder than you imagine because you will be juggling a lot as a hospital administrator. Relationship management will come in handy in these situations, and this is why it is a key competency.

In addition to speaking and listening, you should also be able to write and present information effectively. You will be required to do this a lot especially when reaching out to investors and similar parties.

Leadership

Another key competency for hospital administrators is demonstrating leadership. In healthcare settings, leading is a lot more than being the boss in a specific setting. Leaders listen and respect everyone. They also demonstrate class, character, and being true to their word. You should not be a shifty or contradictory person because people will lose faith and trust if they think you are not being completely honest with them.

As a leader, you will also be called upon to foster teamwork within your healthcare facility. You will need to recognize the strengths, weaknesses, and needs of your staff so you can better assign them to teams they will fit into.

Professionalism

Professionalism goes hand in hand with being a leader others can follow. Professionalism calls for you to be accountable and ethical and be able to cultivate these values in others. You should also always be on top of what is happening in healthcare as things change a lot. You should be able to pass this information to those under you while ensuring professional development within your staff and teams.

Business Skills

Executive healthcare administrators are much more than healthcare professionals as they are also business people and leaders. To be a great administrator, you need to understand the business side of healthcare. You should also be able to apply this knowledge to ensure the success of your facility.

Business skills can be gained through experience and completing the right advanced degree such as the Executive Master of Health Administration. Other skills can be gained through the application of knowledge in professional settings.

Applying Your Competencies

Having and demonstrating the key competencies discussed above is not enough as you also need to unify them and ensure they work together to make you a better healthcare administrator.

A career in hospital administration is an interesting one, especially if you are interested in healthcare, business, and management. Although it can take years to get there, it will all be worth it once you are heading a healthcare facility of your own.