If you want to work in the medical industry and want to work in a managerial role, you may want to look at what it will take a look at how to become a healthcare administrator. Healthcare administration is one of those behind the scenes jobs that many don’t actually know about, let alone how to get started on the career path to become one. In the article below we will walk you through all the steps necessary to get started on the path to work in healthcare administration.
How to Become a Healthcare Administrator
Healthcare administrators are also known as Medical and health services managers. The typical education required to become a health services manager is a bachelor’s degree. That being said, earning master’s degrees is more common and even preferred by most employers. Healthcare administration graduate programs commonly are 2-3 years in length and in most cases will include at least 6 months to 1 year of supervised on the job administration experience in a hospital or healthcare setting.
Aspiring healthcare administrators get their degree in either healthcare management, nursing, health administration, public health administration, or even business administration. Management and healthcare focused degrees that actually combine any business-related classes with classes in hospital organization, medical terminology and health information systems are the cream of the crop for future healthcare administrators.
An example is earning your degree in healthcare administration/health information management will commonly also include classes in accounting/budgeting, healthcare services management, human resources, ethics and law, strategic planning and healthcare information systems. Each of these areas get you prepared to become a healthcare administrator or medical services manager. If you have a goal of advancing to upper levels of healthcare management, a masters degree will be required.
It should also be known that many healthcare employers ask their aspiring medical and health services managers and healthcare admins to have work experience in a clinical or administrative role in a hospital or healthcare setting. An example is that if you want to be a nursing home administrator, you will in many cases, have to have years of work experience as a registered nurse.
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What are the Skills Needed to Become a Healthcare Administrator?
Analytical skills – Understanding the laws and regulations are vital to the job.
Communication skills – Communicating what the expectations are from your staff is critical.
Be detail oriented – Organization and attention to the details is as important a skill as any to be a successful manager.
Leadership skills – Good managers always have solid leadership qualities.
Technical skills – Having solid knowledge of the technical side of the industry is vital to a successful healthcare manager. Be it medical coding or the technology being used in the healthcare field.
Do Healthcare Administrators Need to Be Licensed?
All 50 states do require that their healthcare administrators and health services managers be licensed if they plan on working in long term care situations. Requirements will vary from state to state. Most states require healthcare administrators in long term care fields have bachelor’s degree, finish their state-accredited training program, and also pass the healthcare administration licensing exam.
There are some states that also require the passing of a state specific exam on top of the national licensing exam. Licenses are most commonly required for those planning on working at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Here is a list of all the state board contacts for licensing from the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards.
If you are not working in long term care or nursing homes, a license is not typically asked for but you may need experience as a social worker or a registered nurse. If you want to get licensed as a healthcare manager even of it is not required, the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management, the American Health Information Management Association and the American College of Health Care Administrators offer certifications. Getting certified will only benefit you and your career path.
What Does a Medical Services Manager Do?
Health and medical services managers are also commonly referred to as healthcare executives or healthcare administrators. Their main role is to plan out, direct and coordinate all medical and health services at healthcare facilities and hospitals. They may be running a whole facility or an individual department but either way they are in charge of planning and the smooth running of the department or facility. One of the most important things they are responsible for is the constant changes in laws and regulations. Communicating this is very critical to the job. Another critical role is setting goals and driving their employees to be the best they can be at their jobs.
Though most in the medical field do want to help people and that is why they work on the job already, it is no different than any other management role where motivation is key and has to be a constant from management. Other functions is scheduling and recruitment, which can be really time consuming and requires a lot of attention to detail and knowing your staff really well. It is common to have to work with strong minded employees like surgeons and physicians along with low level employees like nurse aides, medical assistants, and medical coders. Knowing this up front shows that confidence and knowledge are vital to the job. All that being said, as manager of the whole facility, money matters, so accounting and budgeting will be hanging over your head the whole time too. As you can see, all the skills we listed above come in to play when becoming a successful healthcare administrator.
Healthcare Administration Salary and Jobs Outlook
The U.S. bureau of labor statistics predicts a 20% increase in overall demand for healthcare administrators over the next decade, which is fantastic! The median salary is $99,730 a year or $47.95 per hour. When compared to typical managers a healthcare manager makes almost 10k more dollars per year on average. Here is a detailed look at the median pay based on where they are employed.
Government – $110,460
Hospitals – $108,730
Outpatient Care Facilities – $92,390
Physicians Offices – $90,920
Nursing Homes – $84,260