What is Healthcare Administration?

Everyone knows what healthcare professionals like doctors and nurses do. But while doctors and nurses are a critical cog in the healthcare system, there are other important job types as well. Some of the most essential jobs are in healthcare administration. On the surface, it’s hard to know exactly what healthcare administers do. It’s a safe bet that they “administer healthcare”, but if you don’t know what that means either, then you aren’t alone. Read to find out more about the basics of healthcare administration.

The job description

First off, let’s take a look at what the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics says about the job. According to the BLS, healthcare administrators “plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services. They may manage an entire facility, a specific clinical area or department, or a medical practice for a group of physicians.” It’s a management role and one that comes with a lot of responsibility. A healthcare administrator can’t look at the day’s agenda and say, “Oh, we’re only talking about HIPAA regulations today, and patient privacy isn’t really a big deal.” When you’re a healthcare administrator, your job is to handle all the important decisions that affect your clinic or medical practice. In other words, this a job with a ton of moving parts, and there really isn’t much room to slack off anywhere.

If a new health care law passes, a healthcare administrator must work with its team to figure out what the law will mean for the facility or department it manages. If there’s a scheduling issue that can’t be resolved at lower levels, it may fall to the healthcare administrator to figure out a viable solution. They must manage employee training. They’re expected to provide quality care to patients without going over budget, and that’s never an easy feat.

The required education

If you think this sounds like a job which requires a lot of education, then you’re not wrong. People interested in this line of work will first need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or a closely related field. The American healthcare system is incredibly complicated, so familiarizing yourself with that system is already going to take up a big chunk of time.

If you’re committed to the field, it’s a good idea to keep going after you obtain your undergraduate degree. A graduate program like the Boston College online MHA program can give you the additional skills and training necessary to hit the ground running. Online degree programs are also beneficial to work adult who already has day jobs in the medical industry. Juggling work and school is excellent training for all the multitasking you’ll need to do as a healthcare administrator.

If you have the right mix of talent and training, then you should have no trouble finding a suitable job in this career field. The government believes that healthcare administrator jobs will grow by 20 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than average job growth.

The salary

All that demand helps explain why the pay averages just under $100,000 a year. It’s a lot of stress, but if you can handle it, you’ll reap the financial rewards. There were an estimated 352,200 healthcare administration jobs in 2017, per numbers from the BLS.

There are so many competing interests that have to be taken into account as a healthcare administrator, though. This is not a job for everyone. For one thing, you’ll have to deal with physicians who often resent administrators for what they perceive to be micromanagement. Conflict is all but inevitable when a healthcare administrator has to cut costs and a doctor just wants to give their patients the best care possible. You’ll be expected to maintain positive working relationships with a lot of different employees even as you make tough decisions.

About Carrie McCubbin