Behind the scenes of every healthcare facility there is a complicated web of financial transactions, confidential exchanges of data, and human relations that are essential to making your visit to the doctor as comfortable as possible. Healthcare administrators are the professionals who work to bring you competent, competitive medical services.
Consider an online healthcare administration degree if you are more interested in the business side of medicine than direct patient care. As an administrator at a hospital, doctor's office or care center, you'll devise ways to provide efficient services for both staff and patients. Being in such an influential role pays quite nicely—the BLS reports that the median salary for managers and healthcare administrators as $96,540. Employment in this field is also projected to be favorable, with a 17% job growth rate projected through 2024—more than double the national average of all occupations.
THE CAREER PATH
Healthcare administrators are vital in every setting that falls under the scope of healthcare and medical services—from nursing homes to hospitals, these professionals may oversee entire facilities or specific departments. In each setting you will work behind the scenes to ensure that the healthcare facility runs as smoothly and effectively as possible. Other tasks may include ensuring compliance with all medical laws and regulations and preparing and monitoring budgets and spending between healthcare services and departments.
After earning a bachelor's or master's degree, you can seek work in a hospital, private practice, nursing home or other care center. In a large hospital, you may begin as an administrative assistant or assistant department head. In a small hospital or nursing facility, you could start out as an assistant administrator. With enough experience, you may even work your way up to being a top executive in a healthcare organization.
If you already have a degree, you may want to consider an advanced healthcare administration program to boost your career. Many healthcare administrators develop a specialty in a single care area—such as nursing or medical records—and then obtain a master's in healthcare administration online to advance their career. Related programs include the online public health or health informatics degree.
Some of the most common types of healthcare administrators are:
- Nursing Home Administrators
This very focused profession is the only one among health administrators that requires a license in every state. Nursing home administrators are responsible for the staff, admissions, finances, and residential care of nursing homes.
- Clinical Managers
Responsibilities of clinical managers will depend on the type of department that they choose to work in; they play a role in almost every healthcare field imaginable. In everything from surgery to physical therapy, clinical managers provide the oversight to set and carry out policies, goals, and procedures for their departments.
- Health Information Managers
Health information managers usually come from a background in health informatics or other healthcare administration experience. They are responsible for maintaining and securing all patient records and data. This profession is becoming increasingly necessary in the healthcare industry in order to ensure that databases are complete and accurate as Electronic Health Records become more popular. Depending on the agency, health information managers may oversee a team of health information technicians (HITs).
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Healthcare administrators frequently discuss business and legal terms with a variety of other healthcare professionals, so they must have the communication skills required for those conversations. They must demonstrate the leadership and problem-solving skills required to find creative solutions to administrative issues and model professional competency for colleagues and staff. In addition to these key traits, they must also have the technical skills to stay up to date with advancements in healthcare technology and data analytics.
And, most importantly, rather than interacting directly with patients, healthcare administrators focus their energy and communication on other healthcare professionals in order to coordinate effective services. If you are interested in working to improve the delivery of healthcare services to your community, then you may be a strong candidate for a career in healthcare administration.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Careers in healthcare administration can begin from many different starting points, and can be approached from varying directions. Healthcare administrators have a unique opportunity to mold their career path to suit their goals and their lifestyle. Most careers in healthcare administration develop out of a long-term commitment to the healthcare industry and many healthcare administrators start out with relevant careers as registered nurses, HITs, or administrative assistants. Hands-on experience is the most valuable education possible for professionals seeking administrative positions.
You'll get your fill of healthcare terminology and business principles with this degree. A bachelor's program will delve into patient care in addition to administration, but a master's will likely focus only on management. Common business-related classes include human resources, operations management, health policies, quality assurance in healthcare and information systems. Your studies should also cover legal issues that you may have to handle as a manager. Ensure any graduate program holds programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).
If you do not have a background in patient care, earning a bachelor's degree will likely give you the opportunity to learn about patient care. This may give you a fuller understanding of the medical care and services. Typical classes could include coding, billing and record-keeping. You'll also delve into anatomy, biology, pharmacology and global health issues.
An online bachelor's degree in healthcare administration can cost as little as $17,892 or over $100,000. A graduate level master's degree will be slightly more affordable. Our rankings reveal the most affordable is $11,620 while the most expensive is over $50,000.