What Is a Health Care Administrator?

Learn about the job duties of a health care administrator, and find out where these admins can work. Review the education and licensing requirements for this career, along with the employment outlook. Schools offering Health Care Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Medical and health care administrators focus on the business operations of hospitals and clinics and are responsible for overseeing billing issues, hiring medical personnel, maintaining the budget, and handling patient disputes. As a health care administrator, you might also maintain doctor and nurse schedules, develop policies, and purchase medical supplies. You must be ready to face any changes that occur in the health care industry; this may include implementing new technology, staying current with new regulations, or moving the focus of your facility toward preventative care. In general, your goal is to make certain that the facility runs smoothly and ensure the safety, privacy, and security of patients.

Important Facts About Health Care Administration

Key Skills Analytical, communication, technical, and problem-solving skills
Similar Occupations Human Resources Manager, Social/Community Services Manager, Insurance Underwriter
On-the-Job Training Some administrators may undergo supervised work experience
Work Environment Typically full-time with potential evening, weekend, and overnight hours

Specialties and Work Settings

Most health care administrators work in hospitals, though you might also work in physicians' offices, nursing homes, outpatient centers, or home health care facilities. Your duties can vary according to the type of institution where you work. For example, those who work in nursing homes tend to manage small staffs and pay particular attention to patient care. Those who specialize in clinical administration typically oversee one department, like surgery or nursing. You could also specialize in health information management, which entails overseeing a staff of health information technicians and ensuring that all patient records are maintained properly.

The scope of your duties may also depend on the size of the facility in which you work. In a larger hospital or clinic, you may share duties with several administrators or oversee the entire operation and delegate duties to assistant administrators. In a smaller facility, you'll generally coordinate all of the day-to-day activities of the office.

Education

To become a health care administrator, you generally must earn a bachelor's degree in health administration. You can expect to study topics like human resources administration, budgeting, health care law, and hospital organization. You might also be able to concentrate your degree in a specific facet of health care, like nursing home or hospital administration. While a four-year degree may qualify you for employment in the profession, many administrators hold master's degrees in health services administration. Such graduate degrees may be particularly important for employment in larger health care organizations or advancement to higher-paying positions.

Licensing

If you want to specialize in nursing home administration, you must also be licensed. Most states require you to have a bachelor's degree and complete an approved training program before sitting for a licensing exam. Licensure may also be required to work in assisted-living facilities, depending on your state of employment.

Job Growth and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), jobs as medical and health service managers were expected to increase by 23% from 2012-2022. This above-average projected growth rate is an effect of the growing aging population, which creates a greater demand for health care workers, particularly in nursing care facilities. The BLS also reports that the median salary earned by such managers, including health care administrators, was $92,810 as of May of 2014.

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