Becoming a Hospital CEO

Do you dream of becoming a hospital CEO? By understanding this career path and reading the blogs of some prominent hospital CEOs, you’ll have a much better grasp of what you need to get there.

Hospital CEO Salaries
Salary figures vary wildly depending on experience, location, and employer. Here are some links to various resources concerning CEO salaries.

Hospital CEOs
Hospital CEOs generally come from a medical background and almost always hold a Masters of Hospital or Healthcare Administration. Prior to becoming CEOs, they must have about 8-10 years of experience in administrative, management and healthcare positions. The hospital CEO is the highest ranking official in the hospital organization, and he or she also has the toughest job.

What do Hospital CEOs Do?
Hospital CEOs are responsible for overseeing day to day operations, serving as moral leaders who articulate the hospital’s mission and vision to the public community, and being the leaders in developing strategic vision and policies for the hospital. The CEO usually works alongside a team consisting of the CNO (Chief Nursing Officer), CMO (Chief Medical Officer), COO (Chief Operating Officer) and the CFO (Chief Financial Officer)- this is the hospital’s executive management team.

How do Hospital CEOs get to where they are?
In studying this list of “20 New Hospital CEOs to Know”, it seems that most of the CEOs have a couple things in common:

  • They served as COOs of hospitals before. COO, the Chief Operating Officer, delegates day to day operations and reports to the CEO, who is usually too busy to review production quotas and operations daily.
  • They held a Masters in Healthcare Administration, Business Administration or Nursing from an accredited university.
  • They held previous positions in strategic management, business and executive leadership. (Meaning medical expertise isn’t all CEOs need to have!)
  • They had about 15 or more years of experience in healthcare before they became the CEOs of major hospitals. (Patience is a must.)

Where can you learn more about Hospital CEOs?
There’s no better place to learn about hospital CEOs than from their own blogs. Here’s a list of 5 great hospital CEO blogs you can follow for insight into the lives of hospital CEOs.

The great thing about the blogging community is that bloggers want to converse and build relationships. Use this valuable opportunity to comment on a blog post by a CEO, ask some questions, introduce yourself and become familiar with the industry.

  • Ryan

    Does it help to have a MPH or MHA to become a hospital CEO?


    what type of education is needed to be cmo of a hospital

    • Paula

      Hospital CEO usually starts their career in business. Then
      further their education by getting a master’s degree in Business,
      Healthcare Management or Medical Management. And yes, another major factor is
      the years of experience in administrative and healthcare field.

  • Melissa6547

    I’m currently a college student pursing healthcare administration. A career project that I’m working on requires an interview with an administrator,I have been trying to get an interview for the past two weeks and nobody had 5 to 3 minutes for me. I have been in many clinics as well as hopitals. I’m very dissapointed!!!

  • Rahul raveendra

    i have completed my mba in human resource and i have nursing back ground in my under graduation.can i be a ceo of an hospital

    • henry

      No, Nurses are overated

    • Maude Mensah

      the CEO of Duke University Hospital began his career as a nurse, so yes it’s absolutely possible.

  • Tracy

    I am trying to interview a hospital CEO for my high school’s Future Business Leaders of America club. Can you help me find a willing participant?

  • Abc

    If you are asking on the board if you can be a CEO in hospital, then it means you still need to wait until you know you will be one.

  • Sneha Punekar

    Hi! I am pursuing master degree course in health care administration. basically I am B.A.M.S. graduate, I want to know what skills should I develope in myself to become a C.E.O.and in which subject should I do my specialization.

    • Paritosh, CEO.Ret- JPM Rotary

      Dear Sneha, A CEO position is such that you are almost a master in everything. You have to be a very sharp and quick decision maker that means you are a quick analyst of the situation. The more you need to handle is critical situation, swift operations, balance HR systems and higher management. Please complete your MHA course. However to become a CEO you need to work in other capacities at-least for 8-10 years in hospital administration. Last but not the least, you need to have 10,000 ears, 1000 eyes and 1 mouth.

  • gymnast

    which of the master degrees (mba, mha, or masters in nursing) is the most preferred to become a ceo of a hospital?

  • Java Jae

    Where are all the female CEOs?! >:/

    • SJWtaskforce

      They are on this board complaining.

  • Ivy Liu

    I received my MBA degree, and is going for the master degree in nursing (NP) Do I qualify for the positions of healthcare administrator later? Thank you!

  • blessings ndlovu

    hie..i am a Medical Laboratory scientist. currently studying Law(LLB). i want to do Masters in Public health(MPH) then MBA…is it the correct route of becoming a Hospital CEO.

  • NurseMBA

    This a great blog very interesting, I’ve always dreamed of becoming a CEO. I’m currently working as a head nurse at the OR while Studying MBA Major in Business administration. All of my subjects was not directly related to healthcare but I was able to use MBA concepts in Hospital application. Ex. The law of marginal productivity in hiring nurses. I present these concept along with the FTE formula to my boss which is an MHA degree holder and was surprise that he was not familiar about it. Now, I’m currently working on a study about “Hospital Costing Analysis” in which I’ll be presenting to the board soon.

    The problem is “How can I step forward to achieve my goal?”

  • JUST-Tell-The-TRUTH!

    Right before our last election, Nov 2016, the board at our local hospital in Oceanside, CA, increased the CEOs salary from 425,000 to 625,000 annually. There were 4 seats open on the ballot, and unfortunatly only one seat was overturned….. and I fear even though the newest board member is a proven leader, with a clinical and business background, she will not be able to make the needed changes by herself. They are idoits spending district tax payers money poorly!

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  • Mike

    I’am surprised that you didn’t mention the Chief Compliance Office as part of the CEO team. If structured correctly the CCO should report directly to the CEO and the board of dircetors. Any other reporting structure could and would be considered a conflict of interest. With all the regulatory changes taking place in healthcare the CCO is and should be considered an integral part of the CEO team.