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Career Spotlight: Health Care Administrator

Jobs for medical and health service administrators are expected to grow immensely in number, up 22% by 2020, which is faster than the average for all occupations. In a field that is demanding many additional employees so quickly, many are returning to school to further their education in preparation for administrative careers in healthcare.

The Role of the Health Care Administrator

A medical facility operates efficiently because of the hard work from hundreds of dedicated employees. Without the proper planning and guidance of an administrator, the business can suffer. The healthcare administrator is a multi-faceted individual who excels in leading, planning, motivating, and organizing. The position has been labeled the 36th best job to have in the country. As the healthcare field continues to grow, the role of the healthcare administrator is rapidly making a name for itself as a crucial player in the healthcare game.

Educational Requirements

While a bachelor's degree will suffice for some entry-level positions in healthcare administration, most positions will require a master's degree with the following focus areas:

  • ::  Healthcare management
  • ::  Long-term care administration
  • ::  Health sciences
  • ::  Public health
  • ::  Business administration or acumen
  • ::  Healthcare systems
  • ::  Continuum of Care

The courses required for this type of certification usually include subject matter pertaining to:

  • ::  Human resources administration
  • ::  Strategic planning
  • ::  Process Improvement
  • ::  Project Management
  • ::  Hospital organization and management
  • ::  Biostatistics or epidemiology
  • ::  Health economics
  • ::  Health information systems
  • ::  Accounting and budgeting
  • ::  Law and ethics

Types of Health Care Administrators

Administrators are categorized as either generalists or specialists:

  • ::  Generalists primary responsibilities are managing or assisting the management of an entire facility.
  • ::  Specialists primary responsibilities include the operational efficiency of a specific department, such as human resources or marketing.

Healthcare administration positions for both generalists and specialists can be found in nursing homes, hospitals, local clinics, and home health agencies, which allows for true diversity within the field.

The following are some examples of positions available in the healthcare administration sector:

  • ::  CEO The chief executive officer of a medical organization or hospital is responsible for strategy, operations, marketing, finance, cultural nurture, human resources, and management of medical staff, among other duties.
  • ::  CFO The chief financial officer oversees the financial happenings of an organization, including the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the company's fiscal performance.
  • ::  Hospital administrator The hospital administrator works with staff and patients to assure the patients receive the best care available. Additionally, they execute hospital policies and take part in the decision-making of patient care.
  • ::  Director of human resources The director of human resources supervises the staff and the departments, assuring that the departments work according to procedures and laws. Depending on the size of the organization involved, a director of human resources will have human resource managers reporting directly to him or her.
  • ::  Employee assistance plan manager - Often called work-life managers, employee assistance plan managers assure that employees are taken care of in their work life, crucial in helping employees reach their full potential and avoiding burnout.
  • ::  Director of industrial relations A director of industrial relations is charged with making policies for the medical facility. This position, usually found in hospitals or other large medical facilities, is in charge of dealing with the complaints made by patients.
  • ::  Nursing unit Manager or Nursing Administrator The nursing unit manager heads up the nursing staff in large medical facilities, including assembling the nurses' schedules and creating a general flow of operations within the nursing department.

The list of existing positions for healthcare administrators is extensive, and other positions included are:

  • ::  Managers of patient safety
  • ::  Emergency medical services (EMS) administrators
  • ::  Financial analyst
  • ::  Medical information technician
  • ::  Hospice administrator
  • ::  Mental health facilities administrator
  • ::  Home health agencies manager
  • ::  Long-term care facilities director
  • ::  Public health departments coordinator
  • ::  Emergency clinics supervisor
  • ::  Director of hospital marketing
  • ::  Director of hospital fund-raising and development
  • ::  Hospital/managed care administrator
  • ::  Director of Hospital Public Relations

All in a Day's Work

Health care administrators are inclined to wear many hats, regardless of the medical setting in which they work. Departments such as admissions, human resources, or finance and operations all give placement to healthcare administrators. A healthcare administrator's responsibilities can greatly vary; some day-to-day tasks can include developing strategic plans involving hiring or workflow, streamlining patient intake and care, analyzing the budget of the facility, resolving personnel conflicts, assuring the safety of the workplace, and addressing legal issues as they arise.

Time is spent coordinating and organizing the organization's needs, whether it regards equipment, utilities, supplies, or personnel. Additionally, a healthcare administrator will spend a significant amount of time maintaining compliance with government agencies and regulations. Depending on the size of the operation, a healthcare administrator can delegate smaller duties to assistants, while concentrating more on policies and overall well-being of the institution. Contingent on knowledge and experience, some health care administrators supervise the happenings of clinical departments, or they may lead the operations of non-health areas, including finance and public relations.

In home health agencies, nursing homes, hospice care organizations and other smaller facilities, the responsibilities of administrators are more encompassing and extremely diverse. Administrators serve in multiple departments, including human resources and finance. They are also most likely to be in charge of coordinating the day-to-day activities of the organization as well as heading up the implementation of long-term business strategies.

The Demand for Educated Health Care Administrators

In 2009, approximately 271,710 health care administrator jobs existed in America, and all predictions point toward a continued rise in these jobs. The healthcare industry itself is rapidly expanding, and a new study predicts that the industry will create 5.6 million more jobs by 2020. There is an urgent need for healthcare administrators, and those with the proper educational background should have little difficulty in establishing their own healthcare careers. For those looking to make a step towards success in the healthcare field, this is just what the doctor ordered.

Utica College's online Master's in Health Care Administration is a leadership-oriented program designed to prepare you for a successful healthcare career. By focusing on the latest trends in healthcare management, you can be ready for new challenges and opportunities in the growing field of healthcare.