No matter the type of job, though, all administration jobs within the healthcare industry are there to make sure things are running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Healthcare Administration Jobs Overview
We don't usually think of the medical field as a business, but it is one. It needs good managers to help keep it running as efficiently as possible. Healthcare administrators coordinate, direct, supervise, and plan how healthcare is delivered and where it is delivered. In many cases, they are in charge of a particular clinical department, or they may manage an entire hospital, system, or other facility.
As the healthcare system continues to change rapidly with new technologies, reorganization of healthcare structures, and so on, healthcare administrators have to keep up with these changes. Therefore, healthcare administrators have to be able to keep up with rapid changes in technological innovations. In addition, healthcare itself is becoming increasingly complex, with more regulations being added every year. These, too, are changes that need to be kept abreast of. In addition, the healthcare system is increasingly focusing on preventive care, especially as the population ages.
The Focus of Administration Jobs
The focus of the healthcare administrator's job can vary depending on how big the facility is and whether or not specific training is needed. For example, clinical managers have medical backgrounds in their area, such as physical therapy. If healthcare administrators manage the information and medical records departments, they will have a specific bachelor's degree in health information or in medical records administration.
Healthcare administrators are not just responsible for managing day-to-day activities, though. They may also actually set policies, objectives, and procedures. They keep track of employee performance and quality of work, develop budgets and other financial reports, and may also coordinate any necessary events with other department managers, depending on how big the facility or organization is.
If healthcare administrators are directly responsible for patient records, they must make sure that they are up-to-date and secure. Recently, the federal government specified that healthcare providers are required to implement, maintain, and update electronic patient records. In addition, those records have to be kept secure. In this case, technology also requires that this type of manager has a very good background in computer and software technology and is up to date with legislative laws. As this field continues to evolve, these types of healthcare administrators have to have the skills to make sure that databases with this information in them are secure and up-to-date.
In some situations, physicians may be working within a group practice. In this case, managers work specifically with physicians to implement policy decisions, help run the day-to-day functions in the office, and formulate strategies to help the business be as profitable as possible.
That means that in some cases, healthcare administrators may need to manage personnel, handle billing and collection, plan equipment purchases and other necessary items, direct patient flow, and plan for the business in general. If practices or systems are particularly large, one central healthcare administrator usually has several assistants working under him or her, and each of those assistants is responsible for a different area of the organization or practice.
Education and Background
If one wishes to become a healthcare administrator, one usually needs a master's degree in the specified field for that particular job. In some cases, a bachelor's degree is sufficient to begin in an entry-level job. In some smaller practices, formal education may not even be necessary as long as on-the-job experience has been gained.
Regardless of the level of education, all healthcare administrators have to be familiar with management practices and principles. Many jobs require master's degrees in healthcare administration, the health sciences, business administration, or one of several other related fields if the administrator's job focuses solely on administrative tasks. Others who wish to become clinical directors or other related healthcare administrators must have the appropriate medical training and degree in their field. For example, nursing services administrators usually have backgrounds as supervisory registered nurses with the ability to be administrators and have graduate degrees in health services or nursing.
Getting the Job
Because competition for these educational programs is quite fierce, having above-average grades in your undergraduate work is going to help you gain admission. These graduate programs will usually take you about two to three years to complete and include a year of "in the field" administrative experience that is supervised. Many of these programs let you specialize in a particular type of facility, such as a nursing care facility or hospital. Others simply focus on training you as a generalist in the administrative education they provide, and this is usually sufficient to gain a job in any number of facilities or organizations.
In addition, many healthcare administrators need to have passed a state licensing examination and have completed a state-approved training program, depending on the area of expertise. Many of these jobs also require that you meet continuing education requirements on a regular basis during the course of your career.
As a healthcare administrator in the most general sense, you'll need to be very good at analyzing information that you receive from the people that work under you. Because you will be working with different people in most cases, and because that information may sometimes be contradictory, you'll need to be good at sorting out what's true and what's not. In addition, you'll need to have good financial skills, be a good communicator, and be able to be tactful and diplomatic in what may become stressful or difficult situations.
Job Outlook and Salary
Because the healthcare industry is constantly in flux, with new technologies and treatments becoming available all the time, and because it is increasingly important to keep costs down within the healthcare industry, healthcare administrators are going to be in demand for the near future. The average wage for healthcare administrators across all industries and levels of expertise was about $73,000 as of 2006.