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How to Become a Healthcare Administrator?

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Despite peaks and swells in the economy, skilled administrative professionals continue to be sought after by healthcare organizations. According to the US Department of Labor, employment of medical and health services managers is expected to jump 16 percent from 2006 to 2016, faster than the average for all occupations. If you're considering a career in healthcare administration, read on for comprehensive must-have answers to five frequently asked questions.

What Skills Do I Need For a Successful Healthcare Administration Career?

Healthcare administration is an attractive career choice because there are so many types of jobs, each requiring slightly different skill set combinations. For example, an administrator with a lot of charisma and vision might do well leading controversial projects that create positive, far-reaching changes. Another administrator with less overt charisma but a penchant for on-the-nail analysis and accurate interpretations might fit into a research-based administrative niche. Consider your own passions and play to your personal strengths from the outset. You'll eventually find your own level within the administrative fields.

One can, however, generalize a bit when it comes to naming skills that tend to be common to most healthcare administrators. Here are the top seven:

1. Sense of responsibility and personal accountability
2. Verbal and written communication skills
3. Desire to be of service to others
4. Organizational skills
5. Analytical skills
6. Leadership
7. Empathy

Do I Really Need a Degree to Become a Healthcare Administrator?

Do you intend to pursue a long-term career in healthcare administration? If so, you may need an educational degree. Administrative roles have become far more complex over the years, so a higher level of formal education is quickly becoming the standard for most healthcare administration careers.

While a bachelor's degree is adequate for some entry-level positions in smaller operations, a master's degree is the norm for executive positions. Accredited bachelor's and master's degree programs in health services administration are available online through many top tier universities.

Many online institutions offer bachelor's degrees and master's degrees in healthcare administration, nursing leadership, health systems management, healthcare informatics, clinical research management and many other related fields. As you progress up the career ladder, you may decide to pursue a PhD or a more specialized master's degree.

What Classes Will I Take During My Healthcare Administration Program?

Expect to take a mix of business and healthcare courses. Depending on the specific degree and institution, the focus may vary widely, so compare several programs to find one that dovetails with your interests. Here is a sampling of classes you might take during a typical healthcare administration program:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Business Communication and Writing
  • Accounting and Finance
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Healthcare Management
  • Economics
  • Medical Law and Ethics
  • Strategic Planning and Marketing
  • Human Resource Management
  • Leadership
  • Law and Ethics
  • Health Care Policy
  • Medical Terminology
  • Healthcare Quality Management
  • Strategic Management and Marketing
  • Practicum/Internship

What could be a Typical Job Setting For a Healthcare Administrator?

One of the most appealing things about healthcare administration is that there really isn't one typical job setting. As a healthcare administrator, you might work in a hospital or a private clinic. You might oversee an entire health care system or manage an assisted living facility. From home healthcare companies to government agencies to insurance companies to humanitarian organizations, any institution related to healthcare has a need for skilled administrators.

More than one third of all health care administrators work in hospitals. Others work in nursing homes, home health agencies, HMOs, clinics, rehabilitation centers, psychiatric and ambulatory care facilities, and doctors' and dentists' offices.

If the choice of job settings seems overwhelming, just remember that it's not uncommon for recent graduates to work in several healthcare settings before finding their specialty. The average new healthcare administrator will often experience several positions with different institutions. Ideally, each succeeding position should give you another boost up as far as job scope and responsibility. As you progress in your administration career, you may achieve a well-rounded skill set and be prepared to compete for top positions in healthcare administration.

What Will My Job Responsibilities Be?

Health care administrators plan, organize, and coordinate health care delivery. They manage facilities, services, programs, staff, budgets, and relations with other organizations. As a new healthcare administrator, your initial responsibilities will depend on your level of educational degree, your related practical experience, and the healthcare setting in which you work.

Hospitals usually have three levels of health care administrative responsibility. Executive administrators are concerned with planning, policy making, community outreach, negotiations, and response to federal regulations and standards. Associate or assistant administrators are responsible for budgeting, personnel, in service education, information management, and coordination of hospital departments. Other administrators specialize in financial management, marketing, systems analysis, planning, and labor relations.

The administrative staffs of nursing homes and home health agencies usually are smaller than those of hospitals. These administrators may have only one or two assistants, sometimes none; however, they apply the same management skills used by the administrators of larger facilities. The administrators of health maintenance organizations (HMOs) have the added responsibility of developing medical benefit programs for enrolled members.

Job Outlook For Health Care Administrators

Employment of health care administrators is expected to grow faster than average for many years to come. The population is both growing and aging. As the population grows, the number of people receiving medical care and the number of medical offices may increase giving rise to a growing need for healthcare administration degree holders at all levels.


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