A career in healthcare has long been associated with doctors and nurses in their crisp white uniforms delivering care to patients. But there is an entire workforce that functions tirelessly, away from the glaring lights, to support these primary caregivers and ensure the smooth delivery of healthcare.
Among these men and women are the healthcare administrators or managers on whose shoulders rests the responsibility of managing and running a healthcare organization.
The Department of Labor describes the day to day function of a healthcare administrator as planning, directing, coordinating, and supervising the delivery of healthcare. In other words, they are the ones who take care of the administrative and business aspects of running an organization, so the healthcare providers can do just that – provide care to the patients.
If you are the crossroads of choosing a career, then this is as exciting a time as any to get a healthcare administration degree and enter this profession. Pages after pages have already been written about how an aging population has led to a sharp increase in the demand for healthcare professionals.
According to the Department of Labor, 10 of the 20 fastest-growing occupations are related to healthcare. Now, that is a staggering figure by any measure of standards.* Healthcare administration itself is projected to grow at a faster than average pace and the employment of healthcare administrators and managers is expected to grow 16 percent by 2018.**
But excellent job opportunities and attractive compensation are not the only reasons to pursue a healthcare administration degree. The industry is also going through an exciting phase as innovative technology gets integrated with the healthcare delivery system and the regulatory environment becomes more complex. The job of a healthcare administrator has become more challenging in recent years.
Education & Training
If you thought that you need to put in six to seven years of college education to become a healthcare administrator, think again. The good news is that interested candidates can enter the profession with a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration.
Since healthcare managers need to be familiar with management principles and practices, a bachelor in healthcare degree is designed to teach students the clinical and business aspects of managing a healthcare facility by training them in management principles, strategic planning, resource management, leadership skills, and other office procedures and medical terminology.
Graduates with a bachelor’s healthcare administration degree begin their careers as administrative assistants or assistant department heads in larger hospitals. Small hospitals or nursing facilities may hire them as department heads.
With so many healthcare facilities springing up to provide care to an aging population, healthcare administrators may find employment in a wide range of settings. These include hospitals, clinics, the office of physicians, nursing care facilities, residential care facilities, home healthcare facilities, federal healthcare facilities, community care facilities, rehabilitation centers, etc.
The Department of Labor has classified healthcare administrators as either specialists or generalists. Specialists are in charge of a specific clinical department and are called clinical managers. They are trained or experienced in the specific clinical area that they manage.
Generalists, on the other hand, manage an entire facility or a system within a facility. In large facilities, they work as assistant administrators aiding the top administrator in the running of various healthcare departments.
In smaller facilities like nursing homes or doctors’ offices, healthcare administrators are usually responsible for carrying out the day to day operations like managing personnel, handling finances, recruitment, etc.
As far as remuneration is concerned, it depends on a variety of factors such as the level of responsibility and the type and size of the healthcare facility. According to the Labor Department, the average annual income of a healthcare manager was $80,240 in May 2008.
So, if you think your shoulders are strong enough to take on the responsibility of running a healthcare organization, then a career full of opportunities and personal gratification is waiting for you!