If doctors and nurses are the first things that come to mind when you think of a career in healthcare, you need to think again. Doctors and nurses, while vital to the medical community, still need a host of trained and experienced professionals working behind the scenes to ensure the smooth running of hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities. Organizations can run smoothly only with the help and expertise of managers and administrators who plan and supervise the day to day running and maintain the quality of services offered. The field of medicine is constantly being developed and re-invented through technological and scientific breakthroughs. Professionals in healthcare administration therefore need to be up to date with cutting edge technology and the changes inherent in such an industry.
Healthcare services as a career is poised to grow exponentially over the next decade or so. With 3.5 million jobs projected, healthcare is the fastest growing industry in the U.S. today. For students in high school interested in a career in healthcare administration, include courses in Math, English, Science, and Social Sciences. A foreign language such as Spanish could also work to your advantage. Entry-level positions in healthcare administration require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. For a higher-level job or greater earning potential, you could follow up with a Master’s degree as well. Most Bachelor’s degrees in healthcare administration cover basic theory and an overview of the healthcare industry. Also included in the curriculum is the development of skills such as financial management, leadership skills, business planning skills, and statistical analysis. A good healthcare degree program equips students with knowledge about economics, law, legal and ethical concepts, and the organizational structure in the medical community. Students may be encouraged to volunteer and garner work experience and internship positions at local healthcare centers as part of their degree program.
Making a Significant Contribution
If you choose a career in health care administration, you are assured of making a significant contribution to community health. There are several job options in this field that you can choose from such as administrative positions in hospitals, nursing homes, private clinics, healthcare agencies, insurance companies, and even HMOs. Entry-level positions include health provider representative, accountants, marketing assistants, and project managers and consultants. Mid-level jobs could include positions such as department managers, contract negotiators, case managers, and marketing directors while senior-level positions include Chief Executive Officers, Chief Operating Officers, Chief Financial officers and Vice-Presidents of various departments and services. With a health care administration degree, you could be handling a diverse range of responsibilities that include human resources, marketing, staff relations, planning, development, patient care services, government relations, and information systems.
Making Critical Choices
You will be on call and your services will be required to solve problems, make critical choices and delegate and supervise a staff that could number in the hundreds. As you can see, healthcare administration covers a large area and what you do will ultimately depend on the size and type of the medical facility that employs you. Salaries are competitive but work schedules may be a bit demanding as most hospitals work 24/7. To be successful in this field demands a combination of communication skills, negotiating power, analysis of information and the ability to thrive under stress. If you feel this applies to you, then a career in healthcare administration may be exactly what you are looking for.