Components of a Successful Healthcare Administration Career
Healthcare administrators – also known as healthcare executives or health services managers – are responsible for the planning, direction, and coordination of medical and health services. As a healthcare administrator, you are responsible for managing hospitals, specific departments or clinical areas within the hospital, medical and diagnostic laboratories, private medical practices and other medical facilities.
Building a successful career as a healthcare administrator requires several components, all of which can help fine tune your skills and fuel your passion.
Education and Training Requirements
To work as a healthcare administrator, you will typically need to have at least a bachelor’s degree. However, most healthcare organizations require that you have a master’s degree or higher either in a business-related field or in healthcare administration specifically (Masters in Healthcare Administration).
When looking into different master’s degree programs, you should look for curriculum that is focused toward the needs of future health care managers and leaders. These curriculum should have a strong focus on content in policy, finance, research, technology, economics and strategic planning. A solid MHA program will provide you with the knowledge you need in order to create strategic plans for healthcare organizations; analyze the effects of changing healthcare policy on delivery and services; demonstrate strong management of healthcare organization finances; and analyze the effects of different leadership and management theories within healthcare organizations.
The main difference between a specialized healthcare administration program and a general business administration program is that the course work revolves around common issues in the specific industry. For example, hiring nurses and doctors involves a lot more liability than an ordinary business hiring a new sales person does. A healthcare administration curriculum will offer specialized courses focused specifically on the healthcare industry.
Healthcare Administration Internships
For both undergraduate and master’s-level students, finding healthcare administration internships can be a challenging process. However, plenty of valuable internships are available for students who don’t have any healthcare industry experience, and a good program will have the resources in place to assist you in finding one. All organizations within the broad spectrum of healthcare should be considered as appropriate working experience internships.
The hands-on experience garnered from an internship is mutually beneficial to both you and the organization where you are placed. These internships are the best way to bridge the gap between going to school and landing a great job. At the end of an internship, you will have gained relevant experience that will serve you well as you begin your career as a healthcare administrator.
Certification and Licensing
If you are considering working as a healthcare administrator in a nursing home facility, certification is required in all states, and assisted-living facilities may require it in some states. The American Association of Healthcare Administration Management (AAHAM) offers several certification examinations that can help you advance your career.
Although you are not required to have an AAHAM certification to work in certain healthcare environments, many healthcare professionals consider it a good investment in your personal growth and professional future. Earning an AAHAM certification can help improve your earning potential and provide you access to the positions and promotions you desire. It also can help you build a network of peers in the group that shares your certification designation.
Several AAHAM certifications are available, including for Revenue Cycle Executive, Revenue Cycle Professional, Revenue Integrity Professional, Revenue Cycle Specialist and Compliance Technician. Each certification is designed for specific specialties and proficiencies.
Do you have what it takes to become a healthcare administrator? The Healthcare Leadership Alliance has come up with certain core skills subsets that you should possess in order to become an effective healthcare administrator. These subsets include:
- • Communication and Relationship Management – Healthcare administrators should be able to communicate clearly and respectfully with patients, customers, industry leaders, partners, department heads and hospital workers. They should also be able to create meaningful relations with peers.
- • Leadership – As a healthcare administrator, you need to have the ability to create a shared vision for and inspire your entire team. You must also be able to implement a strong organizational plan for your institution.
- • Professionalism – A healthcare administrator must maintain the utmost professional, ethical and moral conduct at all time and set a high standard of excellence for team members.
- • Knowledge of Health Care – A good healthcare administrator is on top of healthcare system policies, the latest innovations in healthcare technology, and the ever-changing political landscape in the industry.
- • Business Skills – As a healthcare administrator, you must know how to run your institution like a business and have a strong grasp on business principles, systems thinking and business management.
Get Your Master’s in Healthcare Administration
If you are interested in becoming a healthcare administrator and want to find a quality master’s program, learn more about degree programs in this area.