Concorde Blog - Oct 30, 2020
Are you thinking about pursuing a career in public health? Do you love the idea of impacting the lives of patients but aren't sure about working in unpredictable situations or having irregular hours? If you have a passion for the health care system and helping others but don't think that directly working with patients is for you, then a career as a health care administrator may be the ideal fit.
Health care administration, sometimes known as health care management, is a popular career choice for people who want to help others but don't want to work as a medical professional or direct care provider. Because health care is one of the fastest-growing industries right now, there's a very positive outlook for health care administrative jobs. Additionally, professionals in this industry generally enjoy a high job satisfaction rate.
This guide can help you better understand all aspects of different jobs for health care administration and determine whether the career is a good fit for you.
What Is a Health Care Administrator?
A health care administrator is an administrative professional who directs the operations of a health care organization. Unlike the physicians and nurses who work in those facilities, health care administrators don't directly deal with patients on a regular basis. Instead, their job is to shape policy, make necessary changes, and lead the organization so that it can provide the best possible care for patients. They are also responsible for both daily and long-term decisions that impact the health care system they work in.
Health care administrators can have a variety of different job titles, depending on the environment in which they work. Titles include:
- Health care executive
- Hospital administrator
- Medical and health services manager
- Nursing home manager
- Health care manager
- Administrative manager
What Does a Health Care Administrator Do?
Healthcare administrators are generally responsible for managing the operational aspects of the organization. Their day-to-day responsibilities can vary significantly based on the type and size of the organization they work in, the location, and other factors. For example, some health care administrators may be responsible for doing the bulk of the paperwork for the facility, while others may have a staff to handle that and, instead, may be responsible for overseeing the administrative work in the facility.
Health care administration could involve management and oversight of:
- An entire health care system, including multiple clinics and hospitals.
- Specific parts of a facility, such as a single hospital, a physician's practice, or a home health care agency.
- Specific clinical areas, such as a physical therapy practice, nursing care facility, or cardiology outpatient clinic.
- Specific departments, such as the emergency room, critical care unit, or intensive care unit (ICU).
- Specific areas of a practice, such as admissions, finances, staffing, or facility administration.
Some of the primary duties of these health care leaders can include:
- Improving the quality and efficiency with which the organization provides health care services.
- Creating master budgets and allocating resources appropriately.
- Ensuring that the facility is in compliance with all laws and regulations.
- Recruiting and training new administrative staff.
- Representing the health care facility at any investor meetings.
- Coordinating the health care organization's equipment and services.
- Identifying and introducing steps that staff can take to be more productive into the work environment.
- Handling outsourced business services and communicating with service providers and vendors.
- Managing and introducing new technology, such as software for record management or for monitoring the lifecycle of health care devices.
- Creating an emergency plan in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
- Communicating with health care providers about new facility regulations and providing opportunities for training, if necessary.
- Communicating with health care providers, caregivers, and other staff members about new policies and procedures.
What Are the Educational Qualifications to Become a Health Care Administrator?
Nearly 400,000 people hold health care administration positions in the U.S., from middle management roles to CEO positions.(1) These positions require strong leadership skills and professionalism, in-depth knowledge of the health care system, and an understanding of medical terminology.
Health care administrators typically need a minimum of a bachelor's degree to qualify for their role. A degree in business or even nursing is often common. However, a bachelor's in health care administration is ideal, as the coursework in this type of program is designed to provide aspiring health care administrators with the skills they need to succeed in these roles. For example, a program should provide future health care administrators with:
- Understanding of health care administration, law, management, economics, and policy.
- Understanding of the different forces that impact health care systems.
- Management principles to build cross-functional teams and encourage collaborative decision-making.
Regardless of the specific degree you choose, you want to pursue a degree that will expose you to all aspects of business, including leadership, communication, finance, and strategy.
Recent graduates who are pursuing a career in health care administration can seek entry-level positions in human resources, finance, or even marketing. Look for opportunities to gain leadership experience and eventually move into a management position like an HR director or even as a marketing manager. These positions can help them learn the foundational knowledge to qualify for a more advanced position as a health care administrator.
What Skills Should a Health Care Administrator Have?
There are several skills that an aspiring health care administrator should develop in order to be successful in this role. They include:
- Communication skills: Health care administrators need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively with their staff in order to offer guidance and feedback. They also need to have strong listening skills to be able to work with not only their own staff but also with the medical providers and other executives in the organization.
- Analytical skills: Health care administrators are responsible for making sure the facilities they work in stay up-to-date with new regulations and remain in compliance. They need to be able to understand and analyze new laws and be able to apply them in their own organization.
- Leadership skills: Since a large portion of a health care administrator's role is dedicated to leading a staff, they must have strong leadership skills and be able to lead decisively and with compassion. They must also be able to train new staff members, too.
- Technology skills: Technology is heavily relied upon in the health care industry. Administrators need to know how to use software and equipment for budgeting and planning and always be looking for ways to use technology to improve efficiency within the facility.
- Research: This skill can be applied to a variety of different scenarios in health care administration. Health care administrators may be asked to develop plans for new services or look for new ways to improve the patient intake process. They must be able to gather information from key stakeholders and research the latest advancements and what other facilities are doing to come up with an effective solution.
- Problem-solving: A problem-solving mindset is critical for health care administrators to manage the everyday challenges that occur in a health care facility. This mindset is also essential to look for new ways to strengthen the processes that are already in place.
What Is the Work Environment for a Health Care Administrator?
Health care administrators work in health care settings like hospitals, nursing homes, or clinics. They often spend long hours working at a desk, although they also spend a large portion of their day out and about at the health care facility in order to make sure it's running smoothly. As part of their role, they may be required to attend meetings and even deliver presentations on the quality and efficiency of care that the organization offers its patients. They may be periodically required to travel for conferences or for meetings with others outside of the organization, as well.
Most health care administrators work a regular 40-hour workweek, although there may be times that it's necessary to work longer hours. If the administrator is responsible for operations in a hospital or nursing home facilities that offer around-the-clock care for patients, they may be called outside of normal business hours if issues arise.
Job Outlook for Health Care Administrators
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for health care administrators is expected to grow 32% from 2019 to 2029, substantially faster than the 5% average for all occupations.(2) This is primarily the result of the aging baby-boomer population and the increase in demand for health care workers, health care facilities, and managers who can organize and manage those facilities.
The demand for health care administrators in private medical group practices is also expected to grow, as many of the services that were previously offered in hospitals are shifting to these settings. Also, since the use of electronic health records (EHRs) continues to grow, there is expected to be a strong demand for health care administrators who have a strong background in health information technology and systems.
What Is a Typical Work Day for a Health Care Administrator?
Managing a health care facility may entail making operational decisions, keeping track of finances, or directing personnel. Large health care facilities like hospitals may even have specific administrators who are responsible for those individual areas of management. Here are the general tasks a health care administrator may complete in a given day:
Health care administrators are often responsible for being the liaison between the administrative and medical staff, including nurses, physicians, and technicians. They may attend regular meetings with physicians so they can gain a better understanding of how the facility is running and learn about any issues that the medical personnel may be facing. They may also participate in meetings with other leaders in the community, attending as a representative of the health care facility. A health care administrator may also be responsible for attending fundraising planning as well, especially as many hospitals are nonprofit organizations.
A health care administrator is responsible for overseeing the recruiting, hiring, and training of administrative personnel, as well as the management of that staff. That means that they are often responsible for creating schedules for those staff members and for resolving conflicts between team members when they arise. In order to maintain a productive and healthy work environment for the staff in the facility, they need to have a strong background in human resources and management.
Coordinate Health Services
The health care administrator is in charge of making sure that their facility provides the most appropriate services and the best care possible. They need to be able to contract and negotiate with third-party providers, like medical and office supply companies, and to ensure their medical and administrative staff has the resources they need to perform their jobs effectively.
Health care administrators are responsible for staying up-to-date on the latest news, trends, and changes in the health care industry. They must be aware of any changing standards in health care practices and policies so they can keep their facility in compliance.
In many ways, the role of a health care administrator is a "hidden" career, as it's usually not a profession that comes to mind when most people think of the health care industry. Yet, these individuals are instrumental in keeping health care facilities running smoothly. Even though they're often working out of sight and behind the scenes, the work they do is critical for ensuring quality patient care.
Skillful health care administrators create a positive work environment where health care practitioners and caregivers can work with patients efficiently and effectively. They are also instrumental in ensuring that the facility offers a compassionate, comfortable, and safe environment for patients to come for health care services.
If you are considering training to pursue a career in health care administration, Concorde offers a health care administration bachelor's degree program online. We offer classes that start several months of the year, so you shouldn't have to wait long to begin a program that will change your life. To request information on the program or learn more about how you can get started, contact us today.
1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics - Medical and Health Services Managers, ExploreHealthCareers.org, Health Administrator, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes119111.htm
2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers, Job Outlook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-6
3. Image via Flickrby Matt From London, https://www.flickr.com/photos/londonmatt/16450095892/sizes/m/