Healthcare Administration Careers
The field of Healthcare Administration has benefited greatly from advances in technology, but these advancements bring new challenges as well. Improvements in patient care, along with a greater emphasis on preventive medicine, have led to longer life expectancy, increasing the need for competent managers to oversee the distribution of care and maintain efficiency in both case management and cost control.
What Healthcare Administrators Do?
Jobs in Healthcare Administration focus on the business and financial side of the healthcare industry. They entail managing people, costs and earnings, data, and supplies. Healthcare Administrators are involved in many aspects of the medical facility they serve, and may find themselves single handedly managing a small facility or focusing on a single, specialized area in a large healthcare facility.
A hospital or doctor’s office isn’t just a place where medical services are provided, it’s also a business, and one that requires careful management to ensure that it can meet the needs of its community. Skill sets necessary for Healthcare Administrators may include but are not limited to human resources management, financial planning, information systems management, inventory control, and marketing and public relations.
Good communications skills are imperative for all Healthcare Administrators, whether they work in a small office or a large hospital. A Healthcare Administration career is highly interactive. To be effective, managers must be able to work well with all facility personnel and to act as a coordinator and intermediary, when necessary.
Healthcare Administrators in large hospitals are responsible for overseeing hundreds of employees and millions of dollars’ worth of equipment. They must be able to weigh the risks and benefits of various courses of action, in regards to both human health and the fiscal health of their organization. They must also possess strong leadership abilities, in order to steward their organization through difficult situations without alienating staff members.
Flexibility is another necessary attribute for success in a Healthcare Administration jobs. In smaller facilities, and in times of personnel shortages, Healthcare Administrators may find themselves picking up duties that would normally be handled by other staff members. They are also often called upon to work long hours or late shifts, especially if they work in a facility that is open to the public 24 hours a day.
All healthcare providers are required by law to maintain patient records in an electronic format, and to ensure that these records are kept secure. Those in Health Information Systems jobs must stay current with the latest information systems technology in order to maintain accurate patient records and prevent database corruption. They will also need to continually educate themselves about online security best practices and ever-evolving threats to data security. Healthcare Administration managers must also stay current on the latest laws and regulations regarding medical care.
Where Healthcare Administrators Work
Pursuing a career in Healthcare Administration will give you a wide variety of job settings to choose from, including everything from a single practice doctor’s office to a large metropolitan hospital, and from careers in the private sector to jobs with government organizations. Nursing homes, out-patient facilities, public health offices, mental health facilities, health insurance organizations, and private and university research institutions are just a few more examples of the many environments where Healthcare Administrators are found.
Healthcare Administration job opportunities exist in every geographical region of the country, because wherever there are people there is a need for health care, and wherever there is a need for health care there is a supply of jobs.
Because the healthcare industry is so vast, and so many opportunities for specialization exist, Healthcare Administrators can also be found working in physical therapy facilities, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, organizations that provide therapeutic environments for the elderly and disabled, and even in consulting firms.
The current trend in providing medical care services is shifting away from large hospitals and moving toward clinics, group medical practices, and home health care. Due to this trend, employment opportunities will grow faster in these smaller settings than in larger hospitals, but the majority of Healthcare Administration jobs will continue to be found in hospitals, because of the large numbers of personnel they employ. The Healthcare Administration sectors expected to provide the most employment opportunities in the near future are practitioner’s offices and home healthcare.
Once you land a Healthcare Administrator job, you may work in a private office or in a shared office space, depending on the size of the organization you work for. You won’t necessarily spend all of your time working at a desk, though; many Healthcare Administrators may travel regularly as a part of their job, in order to attend or conduct training sessions, network with other Healthcare Administrators, administer community outreach programs, and conduct facility inspections.
Healthcare Administration Educational Requirements
The educational requirements and recommendations for Healthcare Administration jobs vary almost as widely as the industry itself. Most jobs in Healthcare Administration require at least a bachelor’s degree, although you may be able to obtain an entry-level position, or a position in a small organization, with only an associate’s degree or even applicable work experience. In order to move up to higher-level management positions or to get a job with a larger organization, however, additional certifications or a master’s degree will most likely be necessary.
A master’s degree is generally considered to be the core credential for those seeking careers in Healthcare Administration. A background in business and community relations in your undergraduate coursework will be very helpful when you continue on to receive your Healthcare Administration credentials.
Because careers in Healthcare Administration are so attractive, many graduate programs are impacted, with limited or no enrollment availability. Among programs that are accepting students, competition can be quite fierce. Applicants will need to have excellent grades in order to be considered. Most graduate programs are two to three years in length, with the final year often including supervised fieldwork.
The curriculum for Healthcare Administration programs includes coursework that is heavily focused on business and healthcare expertise. Required courses can include accounting and financial planning, economics, marketing and public relations, human resources administration, business law, ethics, and health information systems. Programs may be wide ranging or they may concentrate on a specific specialty area, and they may be intended to prepare students for careers with a broad variety or organizations, or they may target preparation toward a particular setting, such as a hospital, group medical practice, mental health facility or nursing care facility.
When earning a degree in healthcare administration, you have the option of specializing in a variety of areas, including health information systems, long-term care, and pharmacy administration. Because demand for these degrees is so high, there are many online degree programs available, allowing you to earn your degree no matter where you live or how much time you have to devote to your schooling.
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