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How to Prepare for a Career in Healthcare Administration

by Lalithaa

Working in healthcare means helping others. Sometimes directly, other times indirectly. Regardless of what role you play within healthcare, your role is critical and part of helping keep the system working and improving. If you want to make a real difference, however, there are certain roles that do sit higher than others. While the go-to assumption might be to work as a physician or as a nurse, you may find you can actually offer more value by working in administration.

Administration covers a lot of different roles, from directors to marketers to IT to accounting, but all of them work to make the system run smoothly and also have the ability to make lasting improvements to their hospital or to healthcare as a whole.

Preparing for a career in healthcare administration means preparing for a role in leadership. There will always be a ladder to climb, but there has also never been a better time to get started.

Telehealth is here, and it is set to completely change and revolutionize healthcare in its wake. By decentralizing healthcare, we can offer a greater number of patients higher quality of care, reduce wait times, and can spread out existing resources in a far more efficient capacity. With this new technology, however, comes whole new systems that will be necessary to make it happen.

Working in healthcare administration today means being a part of this new paradigm. You can help improve your hospital, clinic, district, state, or even the entire country depending on where your ambitions lie, and part of doing that means working to integrate telehealth into traditional healthcare services – and all new technologies that come after it. If you want real-time information on service performance and quality at all levels of the health system please check data services in healthcare .

Clinical professionals, analysts, consultants, and those who are working in lower-tier administration roles already can all make a difference by transitioning their career into healthcare administration, and you can get started today by using the tips and steps outlined in this guide.

Career Options in Healthcare Administration

There are so many ways that you can get started with your very own thriving career in healthcare administration, and many exciting departments to consider:

Business Administration

Being a leader within healthcare means being able to manage a hospital, clinic, or other healthcare organization both like a business and also like a health leader. Only when both the patients and the business’ operations are accounted for can, any organization thrive and offer the highest level of services to patients and employees.

Marketing

Marketing may not be the go-to career path for those looking into leadership roles in health, but it can be the perfect approach for those who want to help on a grand scale and also take a creative approach to do it. Marketing works to help convey important messages to the public about new treatments, public health announcements, and of course, services. Marketing also works on the flip side and helps hospitals, clinics, and other health organizations gain more attention and funding.

Finance

To be a leader in healthcare, you absolutely must understand the numbers that make it tick. You need to know time value, risk and rate of return, bond and equity pricing, and financial planning. While you can absolutely go into healthcare administration as a trained professional in finance and accounting, know that these skills are considered essential in those looking to become directors or heads of departments.

Analytics and Big Data

Every business needs to use Big Data and analytics in order to make it more efficient and streamlined. These skills, however, do not come naturally for those who come from unrelated backgrounds. Just because you haven’t worked with analysis or Big Data in the past, however, does not mean that you need to find a role that outright avoids these concepts. While yes, you will need a more comprehensive background if you want to focus your career in this area in healthcare, healthcare leaders will also need to have a firm grasp of several key fundamental analytics concepts within the healthcare sector.

And More

There are many important companies and organizations within healthcare that need administrative leaders to take charge. Clinical specialists alone do not make an organization, and a great leader can make the entire process more efficient and the quality of care, in return, higher than ever. If you want to take your career to the next level and leave a lasting legacy for thousands of people and their families, then working your way up into healthcare administration is the perfect approach.

Who Can Start a Career in Healthcare Administration

There are so many great careers in healthcare administration. The sheer number of opportunities means you can transition your career into an exciting new direction and still be able to focus on your passion.

If you are a clinical professional who has burnt out working on the front lines, you can have an exciting new career in healthcare administration. If you have worked as an analyst or consultant, especially in the healthcare sector, then you can move into administration and start to make lasting changes on a more intimate level.

How to Build a Career in Healthcare Administration

Starting a career in healthcare administration can be as simple as moving into an entry-level administrative role. For those who are already a significant way into their careers, however, starting from the bottom again just to hopefully one day make it all the way up to an executive-level position is not ideal. The good news is that it isn’t necessary. Yes, you do need managerial experience before you can get started with executive roles, but thanks to new, focused management degrees within healthcare, you can make a faster, more targeted transition into your dream job.

There are many great, coveted positions in healthcare leadership and management, and to help you find and work in the best one for you, you will want to:

Know the Available Job Roles

One of the best places to start is to understand more intimately what administration roles there are available. This doesn’t just mean looking at job boards, though this can be a great place to get started. When looking at job listings, take note of what is involved in the role, the salary range, and most importantly, the qualifications that the employer is looking for.

Next, look at those who currently work in your dream position, and explore their qualifications and resume. You may even want to try to get in touch with them for more direct information and advice, though you do need to be aware that their roles will likely leave them very busy, so if they do get back to you, expect it to take a few weeks or even a month or more.

Get into a Managerial Position (If You Aren’t Already)

There are many, many administration roles available that are deceptively important and critical to the care of patients and the success of the hospital or department. From working with records to helping manage the daily operations of a hospital, there are near endless opportunities to take your career into administration.

You will need to work up into managerial roles, however, if you really want to make a difference. Executive-level positions hold a lot of power and can really make a huge impact with patients and clinical staff alike, but there are also only a few of them.

Standing out when applying for executive-level roles can be difficult, especially if you don’t have all of the skills to back you up. Before you can even worry about that, however, you will need to demonstrate a consistent success with managing a smaller team.

An executive management degree often requires at least 7 years’ worth of managerial experience. This is a great benchmark to use. 7 years working in a leadership role can help you develop your leadership style, and the essential soft skills leaders need in order to manage a team effectively. You don’t have to stay in the same job, either. So long as you directly oversee others, you are well on your way to building the essential experience you will need to transition into healthcare management.

The Best Way to Build Your Missing Skills

Knowing the job roles and what you specifically want to do can help you make a list of the skills you will need for the job. From there, you have a few great ways forward, with one of the top options being a management degree.

Management degrees are ideal as they allow those outside of clinical roles to earn leadership qualifications. This way, if you aren’t a doctor or an MSN-holding nurse, you have more ways into healthcare administration. You also don’t need to have worked specifically in administration before in order to work in an executive position today.

An Executive Master of Health Administration is an excellent option for those who want to work their way up into job roles like Director. These roles cover a lot of different tasks that go beyond managing a team and scheduling. You also need to set and manage budgets, negotiate and report to shareholders, and more. You are a leader and an overseer in this role, which means you need a combined approach between management and administration to succeed.

In the past, the best way to get this experience is with an MBA. MBAs, however, offered a broad focus with only one opportunity to focus on management within a healthcare environment. An EMHA, on the other hand, starts immersing you within healthcare management and administration from day one, ensuring that the next generation of professionals are better prepared for the unique challenges facing healthcare today.

How to Be a Better Leader

You need to strain to be a better leader every day, and not just in the eyes of your underlings. Part of being a better leader means investing in research and improving your own knowledge base. You will also need to work to improve your soft and interpersonal skills.

Never assume that just because you have a degree designed to help prepare you for a job in healthcare administration that you know everything. Things change, trends change, workplace needs change. You need to stay on top of everything from sensitivity training to the latest healthcare innovations and how to best implement them into your hospital or clinic’s workflow.

You don’t have to be a better leader on any set schedule. Small, even minute differences over time will tally up and help you provide a better leadership style and results.

We all need to learn to walk before we can run. The degree can help you walk, but slowly work your way up to running by also:

·       Continuing to Learn

Lifelong learning is something every great businessperson does because times change fast, and they need to keep up. Stay up to date by reading, going to events and conferences, talking with others in your position, and simply committing to doing better every day.

·       Adapting Your Interpersonal Skills

Communicating, being concise and clear, listening, writing – all of these soft interpersonal skills take time to develop, especially the higher up in management you go. The reason why is rather simple, and it’s because you end up working with and dealing with a greater number of people the higher up you go. Being able to change how you communicate and adapt depending on what the person in front of you needs can help you get the best results every time.

·       Being Aware of Your Weaknesses

We all have weaknesses, and that isn’t the problem. The problem only arises when you don’t address and work to mitigate them. Some people have great leadership instincts but no head for budgeting. This does not mean that they cannot work in an executive-level healthcare administration role. Rather than do the budgeting on your own, however, having someone else that specializes specifically in the financial side can help you focus your talents elsewhere.

Not every employer can offer this. Smaller clinics and hospitals will need their administrators to wear multiple hats and wear them well. Larger hospitals, however, typically have a larger budget and, with that larger budget, the ability to bring on more people to delegate important tasks to for better results.

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