In order to deliver quality services to patients, healthcare facilities need to run efficiently. Hospital administrators are the professionals tasked with ensuring this happens. They oversee several aspects of managing a healthcare facility, ranging from controlling expenditure to handling patient complaints. To become a hospital administrator, you need to have a degree in health services administration coupled with excellent leadership skills.
What do hospital administrators do?
The specific duties of hospital administrators vary by the size of the facility. In small hospitals, they bear the overall responsibility. In larger facilities, they typically lead a department. Regardless of this, aspiring administrators can expect to perform the following activities:
- Acting as a link between health agencies, governing boards and other hospital departments
- Ensuring medical and health services are delivered in accordance with policies set by the hospital’s governing board
- Recruiting, hiring, evaluating and suspending assistant administrators, doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff
- Setting prices for health care services
- Reviewing financial reports and managing expenditure
- Maintain positive relations with suppliers of medicines and medical equipment
- Developing and reviewing the effectiveness of quality assurance programs
- Responding to patient complaints.
Being senior employees, hospital administrators typically work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, given that many healthcare facilities run on a 24 hour basis, they may be required to provide guidance during unofficial working hours.
While at work, hospital administrators execute their tasks from a standard office environment. It is also common to find them walking around the facility monitoring service delivery.
The following table shows industries with the highest concentration of hospital administrators and their salaries:
Annual mean wage
Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals
Outpatient care hospitals
General medical and surgical hospitals
Medical and diagnostic laboratories
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Ideally, aspiring hospital managers should earn a healthcare administration degree online or by physically attending a university. If you can’t secure admission into such a program, you can also enter the profession by obtaining a degree in a related filed such as:
- Public health
- public administration
- Business administration
Experience is also a key employment requirement. As such, it is not feasible to earn your degree and begin hunting for this job. Instead, you should focus on securing entry-level position in health care settings to gain the required experience and rise through the ranks.
If you are currently practicing as a nurse or doctor, pursuing a master’s degree in healthcare administration can make you a great candidate for the job.
Important skills and abilities
To become a successful hospital administrator you should have:
- Strong planning and business skills
- Good leadership and administrative skills
- Good written and spoken communication skills
- The ability to solve real-world challenges with theories of leadership, management and negotiation
- The ability to work with people from all walks of life
- Good teamwork skills
- An awareness of laws and regulations governing the health sector
There are various career progression opportunities for hospital administrators. Before highlighting the jobs you can aim at, the following are some of the advancement options you should pursue:
- A master’s degree in business administration with a specialization in health care management
- A professional certification, such as Certified Healthcare Facilities Manager or Certified Healthcare Manager
With these qualifications, promotions will not take long to come your way. Department heads can become overall facility managers. Administrators working in small facilities can also secure jobs in larger hospitals.
Hospital administrators are primarily employed by the following healthcare facilities:
- General care community hospitals
- Rehabilitation facilities
- Specialty hospitals
- Outpatient care centers
Finally, the BLS projects an impressive 23 percent job growth for medical and health service managers from 2012 through 2022. This growth will result in in the creation of 73,000 jobs. As such, gaining the required experience and qualifications is quite likely to get you a job as a hospital administrator – a job that enables you to make a real difference in the lives of patients without necessarily cutting into their bodies!
So if you have the necessary experience, skills, qualifications and have a passion for the healthcare this could be the right career for you.