The thought of a career in healthcare may conjure up images of doctors, nurses, and other direct healthcare providers rushing in their scrubs from one emergency situation to another.
While there is little doubt that these direct patient care providers are the key to healthcare delivery, many others are working behind the scenes to ensure the entire process is smooth and seamless throughout the system.
Among these healthcare professionals are health services managers, also known as healthcare executives or administrators.
Healthcare Administration: The Profession
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the primary job of a healthcare administrator is to plan, direct, coordinate, and supervise the delivery of health services in a healthcare facility. A healthcare administrator may manage:
An entire healthcare facility
A specific clinical department
The medical practice of a group of physicians
Typically, a healthcare administration degree is required for the job. Depending on the level and type of degree they have, health services managers can find career opportunities in any of the following positions.
Hospital administration: The job of a hospital administrator is to make sure the hospital they manage runs smoothly and healthcare is efficiently delivered to those who need it. They coordinate day-to-day administrative activities such as creating work schedules, handling finances, maintaining records, managing inventory, etc. to ensure the business of healthcare continues uninterrupted.
Nursing home administration: Nursing homes are residential facilities for people who require constant nursing care. The challenges of managing a nursing home are quite different from those of managing a hospital. Part of a nursing home administrator’s duties is also to take care of the resident patients in addition to managing staff, finances, admissions, and the property itself.
Clinical administration: The responsibilities of a clinical administrator depend on the specific medical specialty department he or she manages. They are responsible for formulating and implementing policies for their clinical department, monitoring the quality of care provided to patients in that department, creating budgets, and preparing reports.
Health information management: Health information managers have the important task of maintaining and safeguarding patient information from unauthorized access. They work with the latest technologies in information management and security to handle hospital databases. It is, therefore, vital for health services managers in this field to keep themselves updated on evolving technologies.
Healthcare Administration: Training
Individuals interested in this profession are typically required to have a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration degree for entry-level assistant roles. Bachelor’s degree programs in health information management are also available for individuals interested in managing this aspect of healthcare.
Some employers, however, may insist on a graduate healthcare administration degree for the role of health services manager. A Master’s in Healthcare Administration degree may also be required for advancement from assistant roles to positions with more responsibility and a higher salary.
For healthcare administrators seeking advancement without having to take a sabbatical from work, an online Master’s in Health Care Administration program may be an ideal fit. An online healthcare administration degree can provide them the flexibility to continue their education and while still working full time.
Healthcare Administration: Compensation
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median annual income of health services managers in May 2010 was $84,270, depending on position, location and education.* Find out about more healthcare