Healthcare administration is a profession that allows you to work in a role that helps the sick, elderly and handicapped – from an administrative standpoint. Because of the specialization of the healthcare administrator’s position, it means that you need to find a college major that educates you specifically for this field. It’s not enough to have a business degree and hope to work as a healthcare administrator—because of the rapid changes in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and how the healthcare field itself is changing, you need a degree focused strictly on the business of healthcare.
Healthcare administration demands that you have knowledge and abilities in health matters, business, technology, insurance and privacy regulations. As you take your courses and learn specifically about running a health facility, you’ll begin to see how every moving piece fits and works with the other pieces. That is, computer technology works with cybersecurity; insurance decisions depend greatly on HIPAA; administration itself means that you need to get several diverse personalities and teams working together.
You’ll work both on the theoretical and practical, especially as you apply what is in your books to real-life situations in your internship. You’ll be able to examine how various management choices work out and affect the outcome of different kinds of situations.
You’ll learn how to work with others as a member of a team; apply leadership principles and develop teams that work well with each other.
What is a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration?
This bachelor’s degree goes beyond the B.B.A. or bachelor’s in business administration. You’ll learn finance and economics from a health facility’s outlook. You and your classmates will learn about leadership and put that into practice, again from a health practitioner’s outlook. As you learn how to manage personnel, you’ll learn how different it is to supervise healthcare providers.
Bachelor’s degree in healthcare management
- A degree that teaches you about the various forces that impact healthcare systems
- Structured in how it works
- A set of strategies that enable healthcare facilities and personnel to work with other non-healthcare sectors
- A field that brings together several financial factors in paying for health services.
Healthcare personnel are charged with the responsibility of working confidentially and ethically with those who come into their organization. As a healthcare administrator, you’ll have to learn about the same principles and ethics.
Healthcare personnel may require a different form of leadership. Doctors, interns, residents and nurses have so much specialized knowledge that their role in health care requires a different type of leadership.
While you’ll be using business principles, you’ll need to use those practices that fit best with healthcare environments.
This field requires everyone working in healthcare to strive to improve the lives of everyone they encounter. You’ll help to plan and coordinate the delivery of healthcare services. Even though you won’t have a healthcare degree, you will need to work very closely with medical staff in ways that improve the care that patients get. This is one of the largest and fastest-growing fields in the U.S.
As the U.S. population ages, it will need increasing amounts of healthcare and intervention. As a healthcare administrator, you’ll be responsible for ensuring that everyone who needs care gets it. As technology affects how healthcare is provided, you’ll have to be at the front of the changes, directing how your staff learns to use new applications.
Career and Salary Outlook
Because of the changing demographics within the U.S., healthcare administration is becoming an even larger career field, and this won’t stop any time soon.
Healthcare administrators who have earned their bachelor’s degrees can expect to earn about $47.29 per hour, which is the median pay for 2017. Also, as of 2017, annual median pay is about $98,350.
In 2016, there were 352,200 healthcare administrators in the U.S.; this field will increase by 20 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than average.
Certain qualities suit you to be a better healthcare administrator than other people:
- Previous working experience and the right academic experience
- High level of communication skills (both written and oral)
- The ability to adapt and be highly flexible
- Knowing how to fit well in a healthcare organization, with an attitude of confidence
- Strong character, dependability and strong professional judgment
- Effective conflict resolution skills
- Ability to understand diversity
- Ability to bridge different generational groups (Baby Boomers, Gen X or Millennials)
- Management skills that translate well to the healthcare field
- Strong analytical skills
- Highly detail oriented
- Excellent interpersonal skills
- Technical skills
- Leadership skills
- Astute in business
- Ability to communicate goals and expectations to medical staff
- Want to make a positive change in patients’ lives
- Ability to balance healthcare needs of unique populations
Your first two semesters will cover your general education courses, such as math, computer science, English composition and a technology class. You may also take a medical terminology class.
As you progress into subsequent semesters or quarters, you’ll take more advanced classes, such as a science requirement. Additional math classes will be more involved, such as an advanced algebra or statistics class. Once you’ve been officially accepted into the healthcare administration major, you’ll take healthcare management courses and case study courses.
Now, you also begin to take electives in healthcare management—these are not part of the core healthcare management required courses. Instead, these are also healthcare management-related classes that give you an additional insight into the profession you’ve chosen. Finally, you’ll take more technical courses. In some school programs, these will have to be pre-approved by your school’s healthcare administration academic adviser.
Because healthcare administration runs so heavily toward business practices, a huge percentage of your required classes will be in a business discipline. These may include accounting from different aspects, macroeconomics and microeconomics, management courses and legal issues related to healthcare management.
You can expect to cover legal issues, which will delve into case law. In addition, you’ll learn about the organization and administration of healthcare programs in various environments. You may also be required to take a course in international business.
Your math skills should be strong. You’ll have to take at least one statistics class along with other types of math classes. Additionally, you’ll be heavily exposed to marketing classes and policy courses.Expect to take a class on requirements in healthcare and classes that delve into healthcare and politics.
The more and more advanced you are in the bachelor program, the more advanced your classes become. You’ll take courses that relate healthcare to the community, third-party reimbursements and risk management and issues in community-based healthcare delivery.
In your senior year, you’ll be required to take a class in human resource management. You may also have to take a class on operations management and production. Finally, take the senior seminar in healthcare management, which demonstrates to your professors your understanding of the role of a healthcare manager.
Choosing the Right School and Program
You want a program in a career field that is growing rapidly. By becoming a healthcare administrator, you are assured of a job after you graduate. As the population in the U.S. gets older, more demands will be put on healthcare organizations. More access to healthcare because more people are insured also means more people see their doctors.
This is a fast-paced field. You’ll rarely do the same thing twice in a row. You can even move from one state to another, maintaining your connection to the healthcare field. Upon graduation, you’ll be ready to enter the office and begin working right away.
Think about what you want to get from a good school with an excellent healthcare administration program. Aside from one-on-one attention, you may want courses that touch on healthcare reform, with those policies being as recent as possible. You may need to learn about healthcare reform as it applies to the recent past.
Once you become a healthcare administrator, you’ll be rated as an expert in this field. Your professional knowledge is highly specialized—it would be difficult, if at all achievable, for someone with a non-healthcare business degree to enter your field. Here is what would qualify you for this designation:
- Understanding the population growth of the aging
- Healthcare reform policies
- Mandates on efficiency and related pressures
- The redefinition of “continuum of care”
- Moral and ethical considerations (of healthcare)
Taken individually, each one of these topics is daunting to consider, let alone to learn about. Once you realize you need to be intimately familiar about all five topics, that’s when you realize just how much of an expert you truly are. If the healthcare industry within the U.S. doesn’t have enough of these experts, then, individual healthcare systems will begin to suffer. When they falter, then recipients of their services begin to feel the reverberations as well.
All of this to say you need to be able to choose just the right school. You’re probably already something of a visionary. Once you graduate, you’ll have a highly specific vision of the U.S. healthcare field.
Look at programs that give you a broad enough education to allow you to work in a wide range of healthcare environments, from medical practices to pharmaceutical companies. At the same time, your education must be specialized enough that you can apply everything you learn to the healthcare organization where you’ll be working.
The right program gives you the skills you need. They will be career-based and practical. You’ll be able to relate them directly to the responsibilities of your job.
As you consider the different bachelor programs, keep in mind what makes you feel the most passionate. If your first answer is people, you’re definitely on the right track. Even if you want to work in a healthcare-related administration field, but you’d rather not have direct patient contact, that’s not an issue. You’ll be able to work in a healthcare-related organization, such as insurance.
The college program you choose should allow you to learn the skills you’ll need to work in any healthcare setting. It should allow you to keep up with ever-changing healthcare trends. You should be able to obtain a 360-degree view of healthcare management. The right program should also enable to to become extremely hirable by different organizations. Here are a few healthcare industries to consider:
- Healthcare informatics
- Community health
- Healthcare quality management
- Healthcare leadership
- Healthcare systems
So, whether you face people directly or not, you’ll still be making a positive impact in their lives.
“Accreditation” just means that a healthcare administration program offered by a university has all the required pieces that make it a high-quality curriculum. When hiring employers see your degree and know that it is accredited, they are more willing to give you the opportunity to prove yourself. If you’re wondering if a program you’re interested in is accredited, the Department of Education should have that information. Also, check out the website for the Council for Higher Education. You’ll get assistance in finding an accredited program.
Different regional commissions provide accreditation to schools, programs and universities in their region. Look at the school’s website. You should be able to find a link to a page that explains what accreditations its various programs hold. Next, go to the accrediting organization and ensure that it is a valid one. Use a search engine to complete this.
The Department of Education can direct you to accrediting organizations or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education, or CAHME is a valid organization. The Association of University Programs in Health Administration is another high-quality organization. The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools is another reliable organization.
CAHME maintains a website that lists accreditations state by state. Visit this one. In the end, you need to have a program that is accredited. It is worth much more than an unaccredited program.