The most visible professionals in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities are doctors and nurses. Behind the scenes, making sure that things run smoothly, is the hospital administrator.
Most people are not aware that these professionals exist. Their main job is to provide the right setting for doctors and nurses to treat patients. Without them, basic functions such as accounting, purchasing and supplies, logistics and even cleaning and hygiene would come to a halt.
Healthcare administrators, also referred to as healthcare managers, are in charge of all the background operations. If you are looking for a career in healthcare that doesn’t put you in direct contact with patients, hospital administration is a good choice.
An online MBA in healthcare administration can take you to the top of the ladder, and you will be in charge of policy decisions that impact hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and even public health policy.
As you consider your MBA options, remember that online degrees are not for everyone. Text-Based Education Reform has an excellent post on who should and shouldn’t pursue online courses.
Why healthcare administration?
Many young people ignore this career option either because they do not know it exists, or because they do not think it offers good opportunities.
According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is expected to grow by about 28% with more than 480,700 new jobs in the next decade.
Other trends highlight the need for more hospital administrators in the coming years. The healthcare industry is growing rapidly. It is the biggest employer in the US, with more than 18 million people. It is expected that there will be about 2.5 million new jobs in healthcare by 2031.
The sector has grown so fast because more and more people need healthcare every year. The US has a large aging population. By 2030, all baby boomers will be older than 65. This translates to one out of every five citizens.
It is not just baby boomers who are increasing the demand for healthcare services. The rest of the population is growing as well by an estimated 2.3 million every year.
The US healthcare system is constantly evolving. Changes in healthcare law and administration have become commonplace, and there is a growing need for professionals who can navigate the landscape.
Technological advancements have also forced healthcare providers to hire managers and administrators who have the necessary skills to manage IT systems.
As a young person who is looking for a stable career that pays well, all these things translate into job opportunities. If you obtain the right training, you will have a relatively easy time getting a job.
Other benefits of healthcare administration
Apart from the growing demand for professionals in this sector, there are other reasons why people are choosing to become hospital administrators:
- Jobs tend to pay well: As an experienced manager with the right training, you can expect to earn six figures. Benefits may include paid holidays, health and life insurance, and in some big hospitals, parents get childcare.
- You can pursue multiple career paths: You can choose accounting, IT, human resources or even legal. These types of jobs tend to be rather versatile, and you can pursue different specialties. You are also a highly valued employee because you have a range of skills and abilities.
- You enjoy job security: The increasing demand for jobs in hospital administration means that employers are unwilling to let go of good employees. If you are honest, diligent, committed and hardworking, then you can expect to keep your job for the foreseeable future.
- It is fulfilling: You may not work directly with patients, but you do everything you can to ensure that they have what they need to get better. Although indirectly, you are contributing to people’s lives every day.
How to become a hospital administrator
You need to have a bachelor’s degree to work in clinical management. You can choose a bachelor’s in health management, health administration, public health or business administration. A bachelor’s degree qualifies you for an entry-level position.
If, however, you would like to climb the career ladder, you will need a master’s or graduate degree in a relevant field. You can also pursue an associate or doctorate program, especially if you want to specialize in a certain niche.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree and are a working professional, you may want to pursue an online MBA in healthcare administration rather than in-person classes. These programs are flexible and are typically completed in under two years.
As you research the best MBA courses for healthcare administration, you will find that they have different titles depending on the institution. You may come across healthcare administration, health information management, public health or health services administration programs.
In some cases, the courses are offered as business administration. They all have the same goal to provide you with the skills you need to become a hospital administrator.
A Master’s degree is the easiest way to advance to a top management position. Not only are they paid more, but they also have more opportunities to advance their careers.
The coursework for a Master’s in Healthcare Management includes modules such as managerial decision-making, financial management, managing business processes, health policy, healthcare operations and general administrative duties.
Responsibilities of a healthcare administrator
The roles and tasks of hospital administrators vary depending on where they work and who they serve. However, certain roles cut across the board, so wherever you work you can expect to encounter them. These include:
- Compliance with healthcare laws and regulations
- Management of healthcare systems
- Managing institutional finances
- Recruiting and training management staff
- Maintaining patient and other records
- Coordinating shift schedules for hospital employees
- Processing insurance claims
- Improving the quality of patient care
- Facility operations
- Supervision and coordination of medical departments
- Building and reinforcing relationships within the community
What challenges do healthcare administrators face?
The challenges you face depend on where you work, your responsibilities and even how well-funded your institution is. A manager in a rich hospital, for example, doesn’t have to deal with poor patients who cannot afford to pay for medical care.
However, certain problems confront healthcare management workers wherever they are. These include a shortage of highly trained staff and healthcare workers, quality of delivery of healthcare services, the rising cost of healthcare, an aging population and rapidly evolving technology.
The more skills you have, the better equipped you are to cope with these challenges. There are many opportunities for continuing education for hospital administrators throughout the year. It is up to you to find seminars and workshops that equip you with the latest information relevant to your industry.
Can anyone become a hospital administrator?
As long as you have the right training, you can become a healthcare administration professional. That said, certain soft skills are important for you to succeed in your role.
You work in a clinical setting, so communication and empathy are key. You need to communicate clearly with colleagues in senior management, those whom you supervise and also stakeholders such as board members.
Other important soft skills include:
- Analysis: You need to be able to analyze laws and regulations and ensure that your institution is compliant at all times. You should also be able to analyze events as they unfold and determine how they affect those under your care.
- Leadership: As an administrator, you are in charge of a management team that relies on you for guidance and leadership. If you are not a born leader, enroll in a leadership course to equip you with the necessary skills.
- IT: Although some hospital administrators focus on the delivery of IT services, many need to acquire technology skills on the side. It is your job to ensure that you can work with the different systems the hospital uses.
- Research: How good are you at finding answers? Do you work hard to find information to help improve your hospital?
- Problem-solving: This is one of the most important qualities that a manager in any setting must have. You should be able to solve not just problems that affect you directly but those that affect others around you.
Healthcare administration is a role that has grown steadily over the years. Today’s job market offers excellent employment prospects for those who have the right qualifications.
The fastest way to become an administrator in a clinical setting is through an online MBA in healthcare administration. An online degree takes a shorter time, but you can work as you study. These degrees are also flexible, allowing you to study whenever you have the time.
That said, it is important to keep in mind that not all people do well in online degree courses. They tend to have a higher dropout rate than in-person courses because students tend to underestimate the amount of time and effort that they require.
Your role will include overall administration of the hospital or clinic where you work and supervision of hospital workers. You are also in charge of compliance, and it is your job to improve service delivery. These are not fixed roles. They may change depending on where you work and who you serve.