Healthcare administration majors play an important role in the healthcare industry, as graduates coordinate all medical and healthcare services and operations for various facilities and physicians' groups. Though healthcare administrators may keep a seemingly low profile, the responsibilities upheld by these professionals are essential to keeping healthcare systems efficient and on-task. And, as the field evolves, healthcare administrator careers are growing and changing rapidly, as well.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes the importance of adaptability, management, and communication skills, in addition to the many administrative abilities required of healthcare administrators, also called healthcare executives or health services managers. According to the BLS, those qualified for jobs in healthcare administration should be able to excel in performing job duties such as these:
- Working to improve efficiency and quality in delivering healthcare services
- Keeping up to date on new laws and regulations so the facility complies with them
- Keeping and organizing records of the facility's services, such as the number of inpatient beds used
- Communicating with members of the medical staff and department heads
Today, every top medical and healthcare facility likely has a highly qualified healthcare administrator running the show. Healthcare administrator jobs are among the fastest-growing healthcare careers, increasing rapidly in recent years to meet the demands of an aging population and expanding to adapt to innovations in new technology and new healthcare laws and regulations.
Becoming a Healthcare Administrator
Job requirements for healthcare administrators typically include a combination of education, experience, and specialty training, when applicable, though requirements vary by hiring institution. A bachelor's degree remains the most common minimum education requirement for entry-level healthcare careers, though some employers may prefer a master's degree. In addition to an extensive four-year curriculum in healthcare and management principles, bachelor's degree students are typically required to complete at least a semester-long practicum and/or internship in healthcare administration, most commonly conducted between the third and fourth years of study.
Master's degree-holders may be eligible for advancement in the field of healthcare administration. At this level of study, candidates are required to complete more practicum and residency credit hours than their undergrad counterparts. Some master's-level candidates choose to pursue an MBA with a health services concentration, or major in a closely-related field like health services, long-term care administration, public health, or public administration. Whether for undergraduate or graduate students, healthcare administration programs typically cover the following course work:
- Foundations of Public Health, Concepts of Administration
- Managerial Accounting in Health Care
- Human Resources Management in Health Care
- Health Politics and Policy
Once a healthcare administration candidate has completed the education and practicum requirements, the field is open. However, some careers will still require further certifications. For example, nursing care facility administrators must be licensed in their state. Most other healthcare administration jobs do not require state licensure, and some employers in specialty fields may even accept on-the-job training or previous professional, administrative, or management experience in lieu of a formal education, though this is not common practice among major healthcare facilities and medical institutions.