When people think about the world of healthcare, they usually think of doctors, nurses, surgeons and other medical personnel. But while the medical staff is working directly with patients, someone has to manage the business end of the medical practice. Welcome to the world of healthcare administration.
Generally speaking, healthcare is the largest industry and the second largest employer in the United States. The industry provides over 11 million jobs, and most of the new private sector jobs — over the past five years — were in healthcare.
Healthcare administration is a unique field within the world of medicine and is perfect for anyone interested in the leadership, management or administration of medical facilities. Healthcare administrators oversee the business components of medical care, and their responsibilities include staffing, budgets, public relations, patient rights, finances, ethics and other administrative tasks. Although some healthcare administrators manage an entire healthcare organization, others specialize within a particular department. Specific titles can include healthcare executive, medical and health service manager, managed care director, health services project administrator or health consultant.
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Healthcare administrators can work in a variety of settings. In the public sector, healthcare administrators work in hospitals or health departments like the Food and Drug Administration or Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services. In the private sector, healthcare administrators work in private hospitals, nursing homes, health insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, medical consulting firms or medical supply companies. With so many settings available, the field offers a wide range of opportunities for anyone with a Master of Health Administration, whether they live in a busy metropolis or a rural area.
What Skills Does a Healthcare Administrator Need?
Healthcare administrators need an understanding of the overarching structure of healthcare systems. Because the jobs can require a variety of skills, administrators generally have a background — or at least a basic understanding — of human resources, public relations, hospital finance and budgets, long-term care administration, public and business administration, healthcare policy and law, and health information management.
What’s the Difference Between a Healthcare Administrator and a Nurse or Doctor?
Healthcare administrators do not provide direct medical care to patients. In fact, they generally don’t deal with patients on a daily basis. While the doctors, nurses and other medical staff work to diagnose, heal and treat patients, healthcare administrators work to shape the policies that allow employees to provide high quality medical care.
What Can I Expect as a Healthcare Administrator?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and health services managers earned an average salary of $84,270 per year with a range between $40,000 and $110,000. Currently, about 300,000 people work in healthcare administration, but the projected growth rate between 2010 and 2012 for the field was 22 percent, which is 8 percent faster than the average for other fields. Though a bachelor’s degree is the minimum education requirement, a Master of Health Administration will be required for some jobs.
Working in healthcare administration is a rewarding occupation, but it can require long hours as most medical facilities operate around the clock. Depending on the position, travel to remote sites or satellite facilities may be involved.
Why Should I Become a Healthcare Administrator?
Healthcare administrators, in addition to making sure vital facilities are functioning in the most efficient manner, are responsible for improving the care of hundreds — or thousands — of people. They have a deep belief in the moral and social mission of the job and really care about the patients and people who are affected by the policies, budgets and decisions they create. Healthcare administrators are charged with believing in something bigger than themselves and working each day to improve conditions for people in need of quality medical care.