You got a Degree in Health Administration – Now What?

Recent transformations within the health care industry have given healthcare executives the opportunity to consider more diverse career options. An increase in the shift from medical procedures being done in a hospital setting to them being performed in private practices has created the need for health services administrators to manage these practices as successful businesses.

What is Health Services Administration?

Healthcare administration careers integrate business, policy and science to manage the fiscal and human resources that are necessary to deliver valuable health services.

These services may include:
1.    Managing a clinic’s database
2.    Directing hospital services
3.    Creating budgets for the health department
4.    Designing policies for health insurance companies

If you choose this profession, you could work in resource development, administration or in public or private sectors. Although health services administrators frequently find employment in hospitals and medical centers, there are opportunities in nursing homes, retirement communities, and physician practices.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists other facilities where healthcare executives can find employment opportunities, some of which include:

  • Home health agencies
  • Outpatient facilities
  • Healthcare associations
  • Consulting firms
  • Integrated Delivery Systems (IDS)
  • Managed care organizations:
    • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO)
    • Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO)
  • Research institutions and universities
  • The Public Health Department

Entry and Mid-Level Management Positions:

If you decide on a career in healthcare management, you may begin your career in an entry- or mid-level management position.

This position may concentrate on a specific area, such as:

  • Government relations
  • Finance
  • Human resources
  • Nursing administration
  • Medical staff relations
  • Patient care services

According to a healthcare study, these professionals spend a great deal of time, and place a high value on, problem solving, communicating, collaborations with other disciplines, making decisions, containing costs, and developing their staff’s skills.

Career Options for Health Service Administration Graduates:

1.    The “Traditional” Administrator

Individuals who begin their health administration career with an associate’s degree frequently find employment as traditional administrators. These administrators order supplies and organize schedules. They also navigate medical software to bill patients, access patient records, and perform other management functions.

2.    Assistant Manager/Administrator

An experienced administrator may be given the responsibility of overseeing a facility’s employees, finances, and procedures. This allows health administrators to obtain higher paying positions.

Responsibilities will include:

  • Balancing each department’s budget
  • Managing group practices with numerous locations
  • Reviewing projects

It is also possible to find an assistant manager position with a nonprofit group, a local health agency, as well as with a state or national health agency.

3.    Clinical Research Manager

Reinforcement from scientific advancements has helped the field of clinical research continue to grow. The complexity of clinical research requires coordination of researchers, study participants, physicians and pharmaceutical executives.

Federal oversight measures must also be addressed. Individuals who choose to pursue a degree in health service administration and become clinical research managers must also be proficient with financial management and budget planning.

4.    Social Media Directors, Health Facility Marketing Managers or PR Specialists

Social media campaigns and public relations are a fundamental aspect of the healthcare business. To become a social media director, PR specialist, or health facility marketing manager, health administration students need to study health marketing or health communications.

5.    Nursing Home Administration

To become an administrator in a nursing home, you should consider taking courses in gerontology. Courses such as this can help prepare you for the administration aspect of your career, as well as offer you insight into the special needs of the patients you are helping.

6.    Clinical Leader/Manager

A professional that has knowledge relating to a specific clinical area is referred to as a clinical leader or clinical manager. Specific clinical areas include neonatal care and radiology. Once a clinician earns their health administration leadership degree, they may be hired as a clinical leader in their department.

7.    Health Information Managers

Health information managers are responsible for maintaining and securing patients’ electronic medical records. These managers may also supervise a team of medical coding employees or work with IT professionals to make sure that all the records are legally compliant, accurate, and easily accessible.

The field of healthcare management requires talented individuals who can assist in introducing and managing the many changes that are taking place within the healthcare industry. As a healthcare executive, you can make a substantial contribution to improve the health of the residents in the communities you serve.

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Learn more about Health Administration at The University of Scranton.

Health Administration Career Guide

The field of healthcare administration is ideal for individuals who are interested in obtaining leadership positions within hospitals, clinics, and other large healthcare facilities. With a career in this field, you will have the opportunity to influence important decisions in healthcare while simultaneously enjoying the intrinsic benefits that come with helping people who are sick or injured.

Hospital Administration Job Basics

As a general overview, there is some fundamental information that is beneficial to learn about a position in hospital administration.

Hospital Administrator Job Description

·        Hospital administrators are responsible for coordinating health and medical services within a healthcare facility, such as a hospital or large clinic. Typical responsibilities for hospital administrators include: Developing research programs Overseeing  the assessment of record keeping related to the facility’s services

·        Representing the facility at board meetings

·        Securing funding and managing the facility’s finances

·        Ensuring that all employees remain up-to-date on regulations and relevant laws

·        Verifying that continuing education of staff meets standards and regulations

Education Requirements

To become a medical administrator, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree; however, to have the greatest possible chance of obtaining employment, it’s best to work toward a Master of Health Administration, Public Administration, or Business Administration. These types of graduate programs provide students with advanced skills in staff leadership, budget development, and business strategy that employers look for when hiring top executives. Completing a two-year master’s program can be the decision that puts challenging and rewarding health administration jobs within reach.

Work Environment

Hospital administrators typically work full-time schedules. Because many of the facilities that employ these medical administrators are open 24 hours a day, hospital administrators are often required to work weekends and overnight. Professionals in this field spend part of the day on their feet, as well as sitting at a desk. During the average day, a hospital administrator will complete paperwork, converse with peers and subordinates, and spend time engaged in planning or decision-making activities.

Salary

PayScale reports that as of July 2015, the typical healthcare administrator salary was approximately $97,000; however, the expected healthcare administration salary may vary based on several factors, including location, experience and the nature of the position. For example, the lowest earners in this field made  approximately $48,000, while the highest earners made more than $177,000 during the same year.

Job Outlook

The BLS reports that the outlook for professionals entering the field of hospital administration is positive. In fact, professionals can expect to see a 23% increase in job openings in this field from 2012 to 2022. This rate is much higher than the national average for all occupations, which is only 11%.

Licensure and Certification

Licensure is rarely required for hospital administrators; it is typically restricted to long-term care providers and to those working in assisted living settings. While the process varies by state, licensure procurement involves:

·        Proof of degree (at minimum, a bachelors is required)

·        Training program completion

·        Completion of a licensure examination

Meanwhile, certification and professional memberships are optional for hospital administrators, but it may enhance your resume and make it easier to find a job. Certifications are required by some hiring entities to ensure that an employee meets a certain level of professional expectation. Certifications must be renewed often, typically on an annual basis.

If you would like to improve your credentials, you can apply for membership with the American College of Healthcare Executives. This organization also offers board certification for ACHE members who meet certain requirements. Requirements for certification include a minimum amount of field experience, a master’s degree, and a passing score on the Board of Governors Examination in Healthcare Management.

Finding a Job in Hospital Administration

After completing graduate school and obtaining your masters degree, it’s time to look for a job. Fortunately, because openings in this field are increasing more rapidly than in most other fields, hospital administrators are in high demand. Below are some resources you can use to find the best possible job in hospital administration:

Professor Connections

Within your masters program, you will find that faculty members are active, experienced, industry professionals. Not only is their real-world experience evident in their pedagogy, their experience is reflected in their ability to provide you with professional recommendations. They can both guide your entry into the workforce as well as facilitate it.

Mentoring Services

While similar to working with professors, mentoring is more one-on-one and typically involves a special professor / pupil relationship in which the professor takes a hands-on-approach in directing the student’s path. If you have a mentor (this might be a favorite professor or even someone within the university’s administrative structure), then you should feel comfortable asking this person for guidance on the types of positions best suited for your abilities, where to find them, resume review, letters of recommendation, etc. as needed.

Professional Associations

There are several prominent healthcare administration organizations. A few of the most notable include:

·        Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals (AHCAP)

·        American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM)

·        Health Care Administrators Association (HCAA)

It is advised that you start affiliating with an organization while you are in school. Not only are professional organizations valid resources for recent research and professional connections within your area of expertise, they are also sources where job opportunities are regularly posted and updated.

Peer Networking

During your studies, you will likely form relationships with fellow students, some of whom will graduate and who will find employment before you. Peers can give you an idea of what the job market looks like, as well as make recommendations. Further, while you may not live in the same community as a colleague who might favorably recommend you for a position, you can consult your peers regarding their experience entering the workforce. They can advise you on the application and interview process and be a reference source for your application packet if need be.

Local Media

Local newspapers and news websites, including hospital or healthcare organizations’ websites, are additional resources that can assist you in finding available job opportunities in your area.

Job Search Engines

Search engines are useful for helping you find what’s out there. Sites like CareerBuilder.com, Simplyhired.com, Monster.com, Indeed.com, and LinkedIn are useful for casting your net when trying to find employment given that many respectable employers list job opportunities on sites such as these.

American College of Healthcare Executives

The ACHE maintains an online database of job openings in the field of healthcare administration. You can also post your resume on this website to attract potential employers. Both of these services are available at no cost to ACHE members.

Hospital Administration is a meaningful, fulfilling role in the healthcare spectrum. Given that patient populations are expected to rise over the next several years, there is a greater need than ever for qualified, compassionate hospital administrators to run these critical care organizations.

Students pursuing careers in hospital administration have many resources at their disposal for both procuring work but also for advancing professionally. So, if you have the inclination toward healthcare and are looking to advance in terms of position and expertise, then an advanced degree focused on hospital administration is for you.

Click here to learn more about the Health Administration program at The University of Scranton.