Healthcare professionals at any level understand the importance of providing quality patient care. At the clinical level, this is achieved with effective and compassionate leadership. As a result, clinicians have transitioned into healthcare administration for more opportunities to impact patient care at a high level.
In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow 28 percent from 2021 to 2031, which is much faster than the national average. If you’re considering making this career change, here’s everything you need to know about healthcare administration and how to start a career in this exciting field.
What Is Healthcare Administration?
While healthcare administration can take many forms, it’s most commonly seen as the managerial component of the healthcare system. It refers to the specific roles that overlook the daily operations of care facilities. These positions regularly interact with doctors, nurses, technicians, and other facility employees to find ways to enhance the patients’ experience.
Administrators can work in a number of healthcare settings, including:
- Nursing homes
- Imaging centers
- Physical therapy offices
- And much more
However, despite healthcare administration’s pivotal role in the operations of these facilities, administrators rarely meet with patients in a direct capacity. The main objective of healthcare administration is to both develop and maintain systems and procedures that directly concern the health of the communities they serve.
Responsibilities and Duties
Since healthcare administration is meant to shape policy and procedure to ensure efficiency, there are a number of responsibilities that can fall under an individual’s job description. These responsibilities are often determined by factors such as the type of facility, its size, and how many departments are managed.
Some common duties in healthcare administration include:
- Coordinating health services: Healthcare administration requires constant open communication with all members of the facility team.
- Supervising staff: This includes developing staff and physician schedules, as well as providing job-related feedback.
- Establishing standardized procedures: These systems and procedures strengthen the operations of a healthcare facility.
- Enforcing policies and laws: Since healthcare policy and law is constantly evolving, healthcare administrators need to stay up-to-date on these changes.
- Managing finances: This can range from developing a budget to managing patient fees and billing.
- Creating educational programs: While this largely concerns staff training, it can also include supplemental programs that concern healthcare policy, law, or recent trends.
While this list is extensive, it’s impossible to capture all the possible responsibilities and duties that can fall under healthcare administration. “Healthcare administration is huge. It can be anywhere from day-to-day operations, to management, to executive positions, to administrative positions,” says Robert M. Baginski, MD, program director of the Doctor of Medical Science in Healthcare Leadership at the Bouvé College of Health Sciences. “It would take forever to compile a full list.”
Examples of Job Titles in Healthcare Administration
Healthcare administrators, sometimes referred to as health managers, can fill a number of roles in healthcare facilities. While these positions are different, they share the same goal of improving the overall patient experience within their facility. Here’s an overview of some common healthcare administration job titles.
Clinical supervisors often direct the day-to-day operations of either an entire facility or a specific department. They typically monitor employee performance, serve as a first point of contact for staff, and conduct training for both new and existing employees.
Medical Office Manager
Medical office managers are employed by private practices, rehabilitation centers, and healthcare systems or hospitals to oversee administrative tasks (i.e., managing payroll, organizing patient records, and handling billing and budgets).
Healthcare Human Resources Manager
Healthcare human resources managers oversee a facility’s benefits and compensation plans, as well as the recruitment and training of new employees. They also ensure the organization stays in compliance with both state and federal regulations.
Provider Relations Manager
Provider relations managers mainly develop connections by recruiting physicians and establishing relationships with current providers. These professionals are often seen as resources by physicians since they may spend much of their time answering questions, providing information, and resolving problems that arise.
Health Information Specialist
Health information specialists ensure medical records are managed properly. This includes a proper release of information being processed as well as the ethical retrieval of medical records.
How to Start a Career in Healthcare Administration
While healthcare administration seems like a relatively accessible position to acquire, breaking into this in-demand field might be more difficult than one may think. “Getting an administrative role can be hard,” says Baginski, “especially for somebody who does not have a traditional degree.”
If you’re concerned about your career prospects in healthcare administration, here are three things to consider that can help you get started.
1. Learn Everything You Can
Taking every opportunity to learn is an excellent first step in preparing for a career in healthcare administration. Individuals who take the time to better themselves within the healthcare field not only learn essential skills but also ensure this career transition is something they want.
“You should always learn your job top to bottom before you decide to move up,” says Baginski. This is largely because healthcare professionals still need additional training, experience, and education to qualify for these administrative roles.
2. Start by Volunteering
Volunteering is another excellent way to prepare yourself for a career in healthcare administration. This can benefit your career in healthcare administration in a number of ways, including additional skill building, networking opportunities, and showing initiative to high-level personnel.
“Very often, individuals start by volunteering,” assures Baginski. Volunteering your time by joining committees and attending those meetings can make a lasting impact on your standing in a healthcare facility. “Let these board members recognize you, make substantive contributions in those meetings, and then go ahead and apply,” says Baginski.
3. Obtain the Right Education
Obtaining the right education is perhaps the most essential factor when pursuing a career in healthcare administration. In many ways, educational requirements have often been a barrier to many prospective healthcare leaders.
Hospital healthcare administration is an excellent example of this. Many hospital administrators hold a Doctor of Medicine (MD). For many aspiring healthcare administrators, this can be very intimidating when applying for open positions. In response, newer healthcare leadership programs, like the Doctor of Medical Science in Healthcare Leadership (DMSc) at the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, have been developed to empower more healthcare professionals to take more agency in their facilities.
“That’s why we created this degree,” says Baginski. “We wanted to give more people the credentials and education to move ahead.”
Lead the Way in Health Administration
Effective healthcare administration can be the difference between a well-run facility and one that loses both money and talent. This is because, at its core, a healthcare facility’s mission is to serve its patients’ needs in the most cost-effective way.
For healthcare providers with a passion for medicine, this business model can be difficult to adopt, but industry leaders in this field are finding new and exciting opportunities to make a difference in patient care through healthcare administrative roles.
If you want to make a larger impact on healthcare, consider obtaining Northeastern University’s Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc) in Healthcare Leadership. This degree provides everything you’ll need to transition from a clinical career to one in healthcare administration.