Healthcare is the largest industry, and with 11 million jobs, the second largest employer in the United States. The healthcare field encompasses a wide variety of jobs including physicians, nurses, researchers, scientists, consultants, health insurance companies and public health advocates who all work on various facets and aspects of the healthcare world. Also included under the umbrella term are healthcare administrators, sometimes known as healthcare executives or medical and health service managers, who deal with the business end of healthcare. Healthcare administrators often handle staffing, budgets, public relations, patient rights, finances, ethics and other administrative tasks.
The field of healthcare administration is incredibly broad with jobs found in environments such as hospitals, physician’s offices, consultant agencies, nonprofits, pharmaceutical companies and labs. Healthcare administration jobs are found in both public and private sectors. Students and professionals considering the field of healthcare administration should research both options before settling on a specific employment goal.
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Public Sector Jobs
Healthcare administration jobs in the public sector are available at government agencies and nonprofit organizations. This includes health departments, federal agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services or health-related nonprofits and national associations like the Red Cross and the American Hospital Association. The roles and responsibilities of a healthcare administrator can vary according to the institutional setting.
In a Public Health Department
Health department jobs require a variety of skill sets. For example, a public health department might need a healthcare administrator to create a budget for the upcoming year for his or her department or area. In addition, department of health jobs will probably involve some policy planning to facilitate the most efficient public health programs. It is important when developing policies to have a firm understanding of ethics and health laws, as knowledge of these will be crucial in the day-to-day workings of government officials.
In a Large, National Nonprofit
If the healthcare administration position is for a large, national organization like the Red Cross, part of a health administrator’s job will involve some form of public relations as much of a nonprofit’s success depends on the public persona it presents. In this environment it would be beneficial to have an understanding of staffing and budgets as well. In nonprofits, a healthcare administrator may play a larger jack-of-all-trades role in that he or she might be tasked with overseeing a variety of departments depending on the budget and staffing of the nonprofit.
Making a Difference
The key in the public sector will be a serious devotion to improving healthcare. Though the average salary (private and public) for a healthcare administrator is $84,270, those working in the public sector might make less than their private sector counterparts. However, public sector health employees can have a far-reaching impact through their involvement with public policies. Public sector jobs often demand a great level of responsibility, and for the right person, could be considered dream jobs. Health administrators in the public sector help shape the future of health policy, and in doing so, they help shape the future of the country.