Healthcare is a more complex business now than ever before – and it’s changing rapidly. Skilled hospital administrators are vital to ensuring that medical facilities run efficiently and deliver quality patient care. Depending on its size, a facility may have one or several administrators. Pursuing a career as a hospital administrator can be a rewarding way of helping others; enrolling in an MBA program with a specialization in Healthcare Management can be a way to begin the process.
Job Outlook for Hospital Administrators
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical and health services managers, including hospital administrators, will significantly increase in the coming years. Jobs in the field are expected to grow by 17% from 2014 through 2024, much faster than the average growth rate of 7% for all occupations nationwide. Overall, the healthcare administration industry will see increasing demand for medical services due, in part, to baby boomers reaching retirement age.
Competition for jobs at the highest management levels is expected to be strong, and candidates with experience, business management skills and advanced degrees may have an advantage.
Hospital administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of a hospital, clinic, managed care organization or public health agency. To coordinate the actions of all departments and ensure they function as one, hospital administrators must hold a wide set of skills and knowledge. As part of their typical duties, these professionals may:
- Act as liaisons among governing boards, medical staff and departments heads
- Organize, direct, control and coordinate medical and health services in relation to policies set by a governing board of trustees
- Recruit, hire and evaluate assistant administrators, nurses and doctors
- Plan budgets and set rates for health services
- Develop and expand programs for scientific research
- Assist in the education of new doctors in teaching hospitals
- Develop procedures for quality assurance, patient services, medical treatments, department activities and public relations outreach
- Participate in fundraising and community health planning
Administrators need sharp business skills to handle long-term planning, development of operating objectives and budgets, and creation of an overall system for efficient delivery of medical services. These professionals also review financial reports, managed care contracts and major expenditures. They often establish and administer policies, and ensure they are uniformly understood and followed.
Hospital administrators must stay up-to-date with new healthcare laws and regulations, as well as medical and technological advances. A hospital administrator’s interpersonal skills come into use when supervising and mentoring staff, communicating with the community and interfacing with governing boards.
Because healthcare is a 24/7 industry, these professionals may work flexible hours at times, and travel to conferences or among satellite facilities may be required. Work environments include:
- General care community hospitals
- Rehabilitation facilities
- Group medical practices
- Outpatient care locations
At large facilities, a team of administrators may work in specific clinical areas such as therapy, prenatal care or health information management. At smaller facilities, healthcare administrators may oversee many different areas, including personnel, admissions, research, education and finance.
Hospital administrators may choose to be a generalist or specialist. Generalists are typically responsible for managing an entire facility, while specialists are in charge of operations in a specific department such as human resources or finance. Specialization can depend on experience and education.
According to BLS data, the average annual wage for medical and health services managers was $109,370 as of May 2016. Salary levels are typically commensurate with education, professional credentials and experience; those holding advanced degrees often earn salaries at the top end of the range.
As with employment opportunities, potential salary ranges can be influenced by factors such as local market conditions, and a candidate’s work history and educational qualifications.
Education and Training
At the administrator level, healthcare employers generally require a master’s degree plus a number of years of experience. Candidates for hospital administrator jobs may have knowledge of health services administration, public health or long-term care administration.
When competing to land a hospital administrator position, individuals can benefit from earning an MBA with a specialization in Healthcare Management. Coursework typically includes healthcare policy, information management in healthcare, economics and financial management.
Employers may expect that professionals who have earned an MBA with a specialization in Healthcare Management are able to:
- Solve real-world challenges with modern theories of leadership, management and negotiation
- Integrate marketing, operations, personnel and financial initiatives
- Assess risk using financial, statistical and economic data, and create manageable solutions
Hospital Administrator Career Path
If you’re intrigued by the expanding healthcare industry and have business acumen, the position of assistant hospital administrator can be a starting point for a career in healthcare administration. These professionals work with hospital administrators on initiatives to improve efficiency and ensure quality delivery of healthcare services to patients.
Assistant hospital administrators also develop and document new procedures, and support the implementation of technical innovations throughout a facility. With more experience and education, assistant hospital administrators can advance to senior roles in healthcare administration.