Medical field needs more than nurses and doctors. Our health care system relies on a team of administrative professionals who oversee office procedures, schedule appointments and maintain patient records. Health administration training programs can help workers gain the knowledge and skills needed for leadership roles that involve the following tasks:
- Recruiting and training staff members.
- Creating work schedules to ensure staffing needs are met.
- Managing communication between various staff members.
- Developing office policies that promote efficient patient care.
- Writing budgets and overseeing office finances.
Health Care Administration Specializations
Health care administration training programs can prepare students to work in a variety of settings. In addition to working in a general medical practice, graduates may go on to fill these specialized roles:
- Clinical managers are responsible for all aspects of a specific department within a medical practice. For example, they may oversee nursing, surgery or another specialty.
- Nursing home administrators must be licensed by their state, and they manage staffing, admissions and care in nursing home facilities.
- Health information managers oversee patient records and data. They ensure medical databases are complete, accurate and secure.
How to Become a Health Care Administrator
Consider the following steps to becoming a health care administrator.
- Earn a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Complete postsecondary training by earning a degree at the certificate, associate, bachelor's or master's degree level.
- Stay up to date and competitive in the workforce with licensure and certification that may be required, as detailed below.
Keep in mind that to work in this field, you'll need to have both administrative and medical knowledge. Employers are often looking for workers who are familiar with the following topics:
- Health services management
- Human resources
- Strategic planning
- Health information systems
Healthcare Administration Degree Programs
Health care administration schools offer degree programs at several levels. Entry-level positions may be available to those with a certificate or associate degree while larger practices may prefer to hire those with a bachelor's degree. Executive positions, such as that of a chief health officer, may be reserved for those with a graduate education.
- Certificate: Health care administration certificate programs can often be completed in one year or less. They are designed to offer a broad introduction to administrative topics and management practices. A certificate may be ideal for those want to familiarize themselves with the field before committing to a longer degree program.
- Associate Degree: Another quick way to enter the field is to earn a health care administration associate degree. Completed in two years, these degrees typically include instruction in medical terminology, records management, medical coding and similar topics.
- Bachelor's Degree: A four-year degree is considered the standard education for a medical or health services manager, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, employers may also require their managers to have some work experience so it might make sense to earn a health care administration associate degree first and obtain work experience before pursuing a bachelor's degree.
- Graduate Programs: The highest administrative positions within a health care organization may be reserved for those with an advanced education. Fortunately, many graduate certificates and master's degrees in health care administration can be conveniently earned online.
Health Care Administration Schools
Both two-year and four-year schools offer health care administration programs. There are also many health care administration programs online. Many of these allow students to receive their certificate or degree without ever setting foot on campus. Online health care administration schools may use a variety of resources, such as online libraries, multi-media presentations and discussion forums, to teach material and encourage interaction between students.
Licensure and Certification for Health Care Administrators
States require nursing home administrators be licensed, but there typically aren't government requirements for other health care administrators.
However, employers may seek out job applicants who have earned a voluntary certification. These programs are offered by industry organizations to designate individuals who have achieved a certain level of proficiency. The following are a few of the credentials available to health care administrators.
- Certified Medical Manager (CMM) from the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management
- Health Information Technology Certified Manager for Physician Practice (HITCM-PP) from the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management
- Certified Nursing Home Administrator (CNHA) from the American College of Health Care Administrators
- Certified Assisted Living Administrator (CALA) from the American College of Health Care Administrators
- Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) from The American Health Information Management Association
- Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) from The American Health Information Management Association
Each certification has different eligibility requirements. However, they typically look for applicants to have a minimum level of education and/or experience and pass a certification examination.
Health Care Administration Career Advancement
Some health care administrators start their careers as medical coders, administrative assistants or health information technicians. Then, as they gain more experience, they may move into management positions. Others advance their careers by going back to school and earning a bachelor's or master's degree. With so many health care administration programs online, it can be convenient for workers to keep their current job while studying in the evenings or on the weekends.
Financial Aid for Health Care Administrator Programs
Skills and Qualities for Health Care Administrators
You'll need excellent communication and leadership skills to excel as a health care administrator. Specifically, professionals in the field should have the following qualities.
- Speaking: Like anyone working in a management position, medical and health services managers need to be comfortable speaking to employees, clients and colleagues in a variety of settings.
- Judgement and decision making: It falls to administrators to make decisions related to a health care practice's policies, budgets and staffing. A good manager will be able to carefully consider all options to select the best one.
- Writing: Managers may make their recommendations in writing or be required to submit reports, making good writing skills essential to the job.
- Oral expression: When talking to colleagues and staff, health care administrators must be able to clearly convey information and instructions.
- Problem sensitivity: A manager must have the ability to identify when a problem could potentially occur. This is known as having problem sensitivity.
Career Outlook and Salary Information for Health Care Administrators
Before enrolling in any degree program, it makes sense to first understand your job and income prospects after graduation. Below is nationwide health care administration salary information, but actual income can vary significantly depending on a person's specific role within a health care organization as well as their education and years of experience.
The numbers below represent average nationwide career growth for health care administrators, but jobs opportunities may be best in areas with large hospitals or medical systems.
Projected Job Growth
|Medical and Health Services Managers||394,910||$115,160||17.6%|
Professional Resources for Health Care Administrators
There are several professional organizations dedicated to supporting the work of health care administrators. They include the following three industry groups:
- Association for health care Administrative Professionals - Known as AHCAP, this association provides resources and advocacy for those working in administrative positions that support health care executives.
- American Association of health care Administrative Management - Founded in 1968, this group serves the needs of administrators working on the finance side of health care.
- American College of Health Care Administrators - Formerly known as the American College of Nursing Home Administrators, this non-profit represents those working at facilities serving post-acute or aging populations.