As the demand for quality healthcare services continues to rise, the need for qualified healthcare administrators also increases. Suppose you are interested in pursuing a career in healthcare administration. In that case, it is essential to choose a program that equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in this dynamic field.
We’re here to help you understand a bit more about the field of healthcare administration and to identify the most important features of a healthcare administration program.
Before getting into the features, you should understand more about the field and what it entails. If you need help, you can always jump right to the main section through the table of contents on the left.
Healthcare administration is an emerging field that combines business management principles with healthcare expertise to ensure the efficient functioning of hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Modern healthcare facilities require trained staff with diverse expertise. In many ways, they are similar to business organizations. As such, healthcare administrators play a vital role in managing the various aspects of the organizations they work for. This field is critical in ensuring that patients receive the best possible care and that healthcare organizations operate effectively in today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape.
Healthcare administrators are the unseen forces working to ensure that hospitals and healthcare facilities run smoothly. Often referred to as medical and health services managers, they may manage entire facilities, a specific department, or even private clinics. A common misconception is that healthcare administrators work only in hospitals. In reality, they are also seen in pharmaceutical companies, governmental organizations, health insurance companies, nonprofits, and even in medical consulting agencies.
In short, the key functions of healthcare administrators may include the following:
- Analyzing and enhancing the functioning of healthcare services.
- Keeping and managing records for employees, patients, and the organization.
- Managing budgets and finding ethical and cost-effective solutions.
- Ensuring compliance with local, state, and federal laws.
- Hiring, training, and coordinating with healthcare support employees.
- Working with healthcare management facilities and healthcare support employees to set and achieve organizational goals.
Healthcare administrators tend to have the following traits:
- Communication skills
- Leadership expertise
- Strategic planning
- Critical thinking and ethical problem-solving
Healthcare administrators have to work with medical professionals such as physicians, registered nurses, technicians, and sometimes even with patients and their families. As such, strong verbal and nonverbal communication skills help. They may also need to have good negotiation skills to ensure that patients receive the best care and that other healthcare professionals work in sync.
Hospitals and similar healthcare organizations function in a similar way to modern businesses. As a healthcare administrator, possessing leadership qualities can be extremely beneficial. If you can inspire others to work towards a common goal, you might already have what it takes to become a successful healthcare administrator.
Healthcare administrators plan, direct and oversee the key functions of their organizations. For this, they need to have a solid understanding of the organization and its different departments. Good healthcare administrators observe how the various units function and work to improve efficiency–like oiling the gears of a powerful machine.
Critical Thinking and Ethical Problem-Solving
Healthcare administrators often have to work under pressure and make critical decisions while considering the ethical implications involved. On a daily basis, they often have to solve a list of problems which may include ensuring compliance with healthcare regulations, dealing with staffing issues, low employee morale, patient grievances, etc.
You should aim to build and develop these skills while studying to get the most out of your healthcare administration program. Some of these skills may not be emphasized in your course curriculum, but all can help you grow a successful career in the field.
The coursework and curriculum of a degree in healthcare administration may vary by university and level. For instance, a bachelor’s in healthcare administration will include foundational courses to help you build a strong base in healthcare and business principles. In contrast, a master’s in healthcare administration will likely dive deeper into key areas of medical services management. However, here are a few key subjects you can expect to learn in a healthcare administration program:
- General ailments and diseases
- Healthcare Management
- Healthcare Accounting and Finance
- Healthcare Law
- The History of National Healthcare
General Ailments and Diseases
A Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration may include a basic course on common diseases and sicknesses. It is important to understand how different the current healthcare system handles diseases. This subject is also likely to discuss treatment, prevention, and the standard procedures to be followed for specific instances in different medical settings.
This subject will help you apply business principles to medical settings. This course teaches you how to analyze healthcare organizations and determine ways to improve their overall efficiency. Healthcare administration is dynamic, so students need to understand the basic business processes followed in various clinical settings.
Regulations regarding healthcare are constantly changing, and it’s important to understand the implications of laws on specific aspects of healthcare. Health law modules typically include information on patient rights, particularly privacy. Besides this, you can expect to learn about general laws on issues such as medical malpractice, patents, and ethical considerations involved in different professional environments.
Healthcare Accounting and Finance
The financial aspect of healthcare is just as important as its managerial and legal aspects. Through this course, you will be introduced to financial processes in the field of healthcare. This blend of financial concepts with industry-specific insights will help prepare you for the real world. And can help you make sense of hospitals’ financial documents! Budgeting is often a crucial part of healthcare administration, and a firm grasp of healthcare accounting could equip you to handle this responsibility with ease.
The History of National Healthcare
Most healthcare administration programs, especially at the undergraduate level, include courses that discuss the history and evolution of the healthcare system in the US. You will typically learn how healthcare has changed over the years and about our country’s different healthcare systems. This course provides valuable contextual information, giving you a new perspective on the healthcare system.
Here are 5 important features to look for when selecting a healthcare administration program:
An important feature of a healthcare administration program is its accreditation status. Accreditation ensures that the program meets certain standards of quality and rigor set by recognized accrediting bodies.
A healthcare administration program should have a comprehensive and up-to-date curriculum covering key topics such as healthcare management, accounting, healthcare delivery systems, healthcare law, and ethics.
A good healthcare administration program should also provide practical experience opportunities such as internships, clinical rotations, and other hands-on experiences that allow you to apply what you learn in real-world settings. Theoretical knowledge, while important, needs to be accompanied by practical expertise, which can only be built through applied learning exercises. Even case studies and group discussions can help you build relevant skills for your future in healthcare administration.
The program faculty members should ideally have relevant industry experience and academic credentials in healthcare administration, healthcare management, or related fields. You are more likely to gain useful insights from educators who have spent time in the field.
A healthcare administration program should have a robust career services department that provides useful services such as job placement assistance, resume and interview preparation, and networking opportunities. This can help prepare you to enter the workforce and succeed in your chosen career after graduation.
The admission requirements for healthcare administration programs may vary with each college. However, you can expect the following requirements for most programs:
- High school diploma or equivalent, with relevant transcripts
- High school GPA of 2.5 or higher
- Standardized test scores (such as SAT/ACT scores)
- Personal essays and/or letters of recommendation
As you know, healthcare administration is an important part of today’s healthcare industry. A good healthcare administration program should have accreditation, a comprehensive curriculum, experiential learning opportunities, faculty expertise, and robust career services. With these features, you can expect a well-rounded education that will equip you with the skills you need to become an effective medical and health services manager. So if you’re considering a healthcare administration career, keep these features in mind when choosing a program. Doing so sets you up for success in this exciting (and growing) field.
A degree in healthcare administration can be well worth your time and effort if you are passionate about business and healthcare. If you need a little more reassurance, graduates with healthcare administration degrees are likely to have better job security, as their employment is projected to grow 28% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations–according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Most healthcare administrators earn–at the very least–a bachelor’s degree before entering the field. However, master’s degrees are common (sometimes even preferred) by employers. The educational requirements for medical and health services roles can vary by organization and specific function.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a healthcare administrator or medical and health services manager earns an average annual of $101,340 (as of 2021). The highest 10% earned over $200,000.