The following article discusses the most important aspects of a career in healthcare administration. You will learn what healthcare administrators do, job duties, how to become one, popular career paths, and more.
What We Do
A healthcare administrator is responsible for the planning, directing and coordination for medical and healthcare services. Healthcare administrators often manage the entire medical or health care facility, a certain clinical area in the facility or a floor/department. Some healthcare administrators may manage a large group of healthcare providers in a medical practice.
Healthcare administrators assume responsibility for the overall operation of the facility, including patient care, making and adhering to budgets, and improving efficiency. They also must ensure that the facility or department is adhering to constantly evolving health care laws, regulations and technology.
It is increasingly important for healthcare administrators to have an excellent grasp of technological changes in healthcare; the US government now requires all healthcare records to be in digital format, or electronic health records (EHRs). Healthcare administrators need to manage the transition to EHRs and oversee staff who are handling those processes.
Healthcare administrators do the following:
- Strive to boost quality and efficiency in healthcare and patient care services
- Devise goals and objectives for the healthcare facility or department, such as improving healthcare outcomes, boosting profits or reducing medical errors.
- Ensure that the healthcare facility is current and compliant with relevant state and federal law
- Hire staff and create work schedules for healthcare workers
- Prepare and monitor the budget for the facility, and watch over spending to ensure that the unit is operating within the funds that have been allocated
- Serve as the main representative for the medical facility or department before senior level management or the board of directors
- Communicate regularly with managers and staff to keep the healthcare facility running efficiently and profitably
Most healthcare administrators must be able to work well with a variety of healthcare professionals, including doctors, surgeons, nurses, laboratory technologists, and other healthcare managers.
Where We Work
Healthcare administrators currently hold approximately 333,000 jobs. These workers are distributed in the following types of facilities and industries:
- Hospitals, including state, local and private: 37%
- Doctors’ offices: 10%
- Nursing and residential care: 10%
- Government: 9%
- Home healthcare: 6%
The following states have the highest hourly pay for healthcare administrators; the cost of living for more expensive states such as California must be considered, however:
- California $70.01+
- Connecticut: $70.01+
- Florida: $70.01+
- Massachusetts: $70.01+
- New Jersey: $70.01+
- New York: $70.01+
- Rhode Island: $70.01+
- Washington: $70.01+
- Oregon: $68.34
- Vermont: $66.91
How To Become
Most healthcare administrators have a bachelor’s degree in health administration, health management, public health or business management. The majority of them also earn a master’s degree, often an MBA with a focus on healthcare administration. It also can be helpful to have a background as a registered nurse, although this is not a requirement.
Aspiring healthcare administrators will usually need to have classes in health services management, budgeting and accounting, HR administration, health economics and health information systems.
The median salary for healthcare administrators was $94,500 in May 2015. The top 10% in the field earned a median wage of $165,300 per year. On average, healthcare administrators who work in hospitals tend to make the highest salaries, with a median of $102,000.
Other top earners in the healthcare administration field work for local, state of federal government at a median salary of $101,000 per year.
Job demand for healthcare administrators is climbing rapidly. It is anticipated that there will be 17% more jobs in this field by 2024. This is a much faster than average rate of job growth.
Increased employment in healthcare administration is likely because the baby boom population is getting on in years, and they are staying more active as they age. This will lead to a greater demand for all healthcare services. When there is more need for clinical healthcare services, there is a greater need for administrators to manage the caseload and the facilities.
Potential healthcare administrators should take note that demand is expected to be particularly strong in doctors’ offices. What is happening is that many of the healthcare services that once were given at hospitals are now shifting to healthcare practitioners’ offices as technology is getting better. Thus, you can expect to have more job opportunities in these offices.
In addition to the job of healthcare administrator, you also may find job opportunities in these occupations:
- Social and community service managers: These managers often work in social services programs and provide management and oversight. They also must provide supervision for staff who are providing various types of social services to the public. These managers may work for many types of human service and social service organizations. In some cases, they may be working in healthcare and public health related organizations, so a background in healthcare administration is very helpful.
- Health educators: These workers provide education to people about behaviors and lifestyles that lead to better health and wellness. They usually develop and implement various strategies that can improve the health of the community and also of individuals. This type of work also can be referred to that of a health education specialist. The majority of these workers are employed in healthcare facilities, public health departments, nonprofit organizations and even private businesses.
- Community health workers: They provide a critical link between an at risk community, health educators and many other healthcare and social service workers. Community health workers often discuss serious health problems with community members, and provide education and guidance about the importance of taking advantage of available healthcare services. Community health workers often share information with health care educators and health educators, so that new programs can be devised to serve community health.
Most healthcare administrators possess a bachelor’s degree in health administration, health management, nursing or business administration. A good background is a degree that focuses on healthcare and management, with a focus on medical terms, hospital organization and healthcare information systems.
See also 10 Top Online MBA Healthcare Management degree programs
For the best career prospects, it is recommended that you obtain a master’s degree, possibly an MBA in healthcare management.
Healthcare administrators can work in just about any type of healthcare facility, including these:
- Nursing homes: Administrators in these facilities manage nursing home care providers, finances, admissions, and handle the general upkeep of the building. Note that if you are an administrators in a nursing home, you are required to be licensed by your state.
- Clinical management: Healthcare administrators here will provide oversight of a specific department, such as surgery, nursing or physical therapy. Their responsibilities will be focused on that particular clinical department. They will establish and carry out relevant policies for that department, as well as goals and procedures.
- Health information management: In this role, a healthcare administrator is responsible for maintaining the security and reliability of patient data and records. It is important to stay up to date with constantly changing health information technology, as well as the latest laws that govern health information systems.
Training and Certifications
Healthcare administrators usually benefit in their career if they are certified by the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management or AAHAM. According to their website, AAHAM certification is a strong investment in both your professional future and personal growth. The AAHAM certification process has been in place for more than 40 years.
Earning AAHAM certification has the following benefits for healthcare administrators:
- Boosts earning potential
- Provides you with a competitive advantage when looking for work
- Provides better access to promotions and positions in healthcare administration
- Expands your skills and knowledge in healthcare administration
- Top 10 Best and Worst States to Be a Healthcare Administrator. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://allhealthcare.monster.com/careers/articles/1793
- Why Earn an AAHAM Certification? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.aaham.org/Certification.aspx
- Medical and Health Services Managers. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm