What Does a Healthcare Administrator Do?
- A healthcare administrator is qualified to work in many different environments including medical facilities and community services.
- A healthcare administrator requires communication, organization, and interpersonal skills.
- "You will learn a lot in any entry-level healthcare position, which can lead to job growth and a great career."
Healthcare administration careers integrate business, medicine, and health policy knowledge.
With a degree in healthcare management, graduates can work as hospital administrators, nursing home directors, and medical practice managers.
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They can also pursue opportunities within the insurance industry, public health organizations, and social and community services.
What Skills Are Required for Healthcare Administration?
Healthcare administrators deal with policy-making and healthcare procedures on a daily basis, and they must stay current on healthcare laws and regulations. They must also be able to clearly communicate these policies, laws, and procedures to their staff, which may include people without healthcare expertise.
Healthcare administrators must be detail oriented with strong organizational skills. They must manage scheduling and billing for hospitals and doctors and organize buying new equipment. Whether they focus on finance, management, or communication, healthcare administrators must stay organized and keep track of important details.
Many healthcare administrators handle staffing decisions and human resources management. Administrators must resolve conflicts, discuss staffing problems, and deal with sensitive patient information in a professional manner. Being able to manage personnel and resolve conflict peacefully are key for healthcare professionals.
Healthcare administrators must understand and implement new laws, regulations, and policies. They must also evaluate facility procedures to improve efficiency. Analytical skills allow administrators to determine the most effective way to implement new policies and keep things running smoothly.
Healthcare administrators often need coding, software classification, and data analysis skills. Administrators who understand the digital systems in their facilities can help their staff use that technology more effectively.
Interview With a Professional in Healthcare Administration
Jane Kaye is a former health system chief financial officer with more than 20 years of healthcare leadership and consulting experience. In 2014, Jane founded Healthcare Finance Advisors. She teaches healthcare finance in the healthcare administration program at Rutgers University. Jane holds a master of business administration from Boston College and a bachelor of arts in art history from the University of Pennsylvania.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in healthcare administration?
My choice to enter healthcare administration was serendipitous.
Prior to working in healthcare administration, I was employed by a large public accounting firm. A friend and colleague left the firm to become the controller of a hospital system and he recruited me to join him as the assistant controller. The hospital was a nonprofit, community hospital with a mission to improve the health and well-being of the community.
Prior to this position, I had not been fully satisfied with my employment situations, but I found the intersection of this nonprofit mission and my skills in finance and accounting to offer the perfect balance for my skills and interests.
Is there one area of practice in healthcare administration that you find particularly rewarding?
I really enjoy teaching finance to nonfinancial clinical colleagues. Nurses and other technicians get promoted because they have outstanding clinical and interpersonal skills, but as they progress in their careers, they need financial acumen to succeed.
Very few clinicians have this financial knowledge and may find the subject boring or intimidating. I love helping clinicians understand healthcare finance by simplifying it and making it accessible -- and yes, fun.
What did your career path look like after graduating? How did you end up where you are now?
My career path was very circuitous and unusual.
After studying art history as an undergraduate, I decided to focus on my interest in public policy, so I worked in the state government sector. I had terrific jobs while working for the state but didn't see a future there, so I returned to school on a part-time basis for a master of business administration.
While in school, I focused on accounting and finance, then took a position in public accounting, then made my way to healthcare finance and administration through a friend and colleague.
What does continuing education look like for you? How do you stay current with new research and developments in the field?
I am an active member of my association, the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA). HFMA offers webinars, seminars, and conferences that focus on current and changing industry trends, so there are many options for understanding developments in healthcare in general and healthcare finance in particular.
I also subscribe to several industry-specific daily email updates to stay current on breaking news.
Why did you decide to pursue the academic side of healthcare administration by teaching at Rutgers University?
Healthcare is a growing sector of the U.S. economy. As a result, healthcare administration is an increasingly popular undergraduate and graduate major.
Shortly after I started my consulting practice, Rutgers advertised for part-time lecturers in all fields related to healthcare administration. I had experience with adult education teaching finance to clinicians and wanted to expand this experience to the more formal university setting.
Teaching undergraduates and graduate students has been tremendously satisfying. I get to share my knowledge with students who are eager to learn and provide career guidance and advice to our next generation of healthcare administration leaders.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a career in healthcare administration?
First, get your foot in the door. Your first position after college does not have to be the perfect job. It simply needs to give you access to the healthcare administration field.
There is much to learn, and you will learn a lot in any entry-level healthcare position, which can lead to job growth and a great career.
Second, take advantage of every professional opportunity, because you never know where it will lead. Volunteer for employer committees and implementation teams, and never be afraid to ask thoughtful questions.
Related to this, and most important of all, don't be afraid to take risks. You don't have to know everything about a topic to be an important member of a team, or even to lead the team. Just be thoughtful and apply your talent and skills and you will discover that these new situations create opportunities for your future.
What Is Health Informatics?
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