When it comes to work environments and career paths, healthcare administration professionals have a lot of options. As the healthcare industry continues to expand and evolve, the need increases for operational managers to keep things running smoothly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these jobs are expected to grow by 17% between 2014 and 2024 and had a median annual salary of $94.5K in 2015. With stats like those, you made the right choice to pursue a career in this sector; now all you have to do is decide where to take it!
Here’s a brief guide to some of the many places you could put your leadership and communication skills, strategic planning abilities, attention to detail, and big-picture vision to good use:
Hospital administration is a great option for individuals who enjoy fast-paced and dynamic work environments and won’t shy away from a multifaceted role. Your challenge in this position is to always maintain the right balance between quality patient care and efficient, cost-effective day-to-day operations. You may be assigned to a single department or responsible for ensuring all areas of the hospital function without a hitch. You may also find yourself overseeing one medical center or a multi-campus healthcare system. Keeping current with the latest regulations is also a key duty, as it is essential for the hospital to remain in compliance. Though you aren’t providing patient care, you’ll interface often with the community as a representative of the hospital.
No two practices are the same, and the nature of your job as an administrator in this setting will vary based on the size of the practice. You may manage a large group of physicians or a single-doctor office with a small patient care team. However, what you’re likely to encounter is the necessity to fit in well with the office “family,” understand each team member’s role/responsibility, and function as a universal intermediary. As the person in charge of all things administration, your business/financial know-how will also be critical. Be prepared to “run the show”!
Advances in medical care are enabling people to live much longer these days compared to past generations. This increase in the aging population means a higher demand for the care provided in skilled nursing facilities. In addition to ensuring the quality of around-the-clock resident services, you will also be accountable for building maintenance, regulatory compliance, staff training/credentialing, community relations, and much more. If you choose this path, be aware that all states necessitate that nursing home administrators obtain licensure. You may also find employers requiring or strongly preferring candidates with master’s degrees.
Have a passion for human health but prefer not to work in direct patient care? Consider a career in diagnostic lab administration. In this position, you’ll oversee compliance, safety, and inventory with strict adherence to internal and external protocols. Though you won’t be interfacing with patients or family members, you will be putting your communication skills to good use interacting with staff of various disciplines as well as hospitals, physician offices, and other facilities that utilize your lab’s services. Unlike other healthcare environments, you’ll need strong scientific and technical knowledge to succeed in this role plus operations management abilities.
If you choose to pursue a career in mental health administration, you may be employed by an inpatient or outpatient facility. You will be responsible for ensuring all staff are continually trained and have the proper credentials to meet the unique needs of this patient population. You’ll likely find yourself in an advocate role as well and, depending on the type of organization you work for, will head up fundraising and community outreach efforts. Safety and compliance are also critical in this setting. Like nursing homes, mental health organizations will likely prefer candidates with master’s degrees. Prior experience/education in psychology or social work will also work in your favor.