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Healthcare Administration: Salary, Careers, and Education

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The U.S. healthcare system is a complex web of hospitals, doctor’s offices, outpatient centers, and more. All of those facilities rely on an experienced staff of professionals to treat patients and help ensure the best possible health outcomes for all of them. In addition to direct care staff, these busy facilities also need competent administrators to keep them running smoothly every day of the year.

Healthcare administration is a diverse field, with careers in a variety of environments, encompassing a range of different tasks and skills. Yet all jobs in this arena require some mix of healthcare and business knowledge. For healthcare professionals who want to take advantage of an advanced degree to develop their careers, AdventHealth University (AHU) Online’s MHA/MBA Dual Degree program teaches a combination of business and healthcare administration skills that offers a competitive edge and can unlock new professional possibilities for graduates.

What Is Healthcare Administration?

The demands on healthcare administrators are different from those of business administrators. As in business, working in healthcare administration requires leadership skills, management ability, and comfort with multitasking. But unique challenges come with administration in this field. Healthcare administrators need to consider factors such as state and federal medical regulations, advanced technical security, data management, emerging medical technology, and how to maintain and improve standards of care. Despite their knowledge of the industry, healthcare administrators are not always medical professionals. Though the field often includes medical professionals who learn about the business side of things, most commonly, healthcare administrators are business professionals who learn about the world of healthcare.

Healthcare administrators can run facilities such as hospitals, retirement homes, outpatient facilities, doctor’s offices, mental health facilities, and rehabilitation facilities. At smaller facilities, they could run all the business operations; in larger facilities, they might be in charge of just one unit. All healthcare facilities need professionals who can handle marketing, human relations, finance, public outreach, and fundraising. That way, the medical professionals can focus on providing high-quality patient care.

Healthcare Administration Careers and Skills

Graduates of a dual degree MHA/MBA program can pursue a variety of careers with varying responsibilities. Dual degrees offer students an increased opportunity for higher salaries and faster advancement, and they provide a strong negotiation point. Courses in marketing, management, statistics, and policy all help prepare graduates for dynamic jobs with varying demands and salaries in the field of healthcare administration.

Hospital Administrator

Hospital administrators are responsible for running healthcare facilities of all sizes. Some hospitals may serve hundreds of thousands of patients every year, with hundreds of beds occupied at any given time. These facilities may have a staff in the hundreds, with doctors in a dozen specialties working alongside nurses, technologists, rehab specialists, and other support staff. Hospital administrators can be responsible for running one department, such as marketing or philanthropy. Or they may rise all the way to CEO, where they lead the entire operation, making big-picture decisions and managing various department heads. Due to the demands of the job, hospital administrators must be able to delegate tasks, oversee projects, and communicate effectively with management, staff, donors, and patients.

Assisted Living Facility Manager

The majority of assisted living facilities are for older adults who are dealing with physical ailments or cognitive decline and who are no longer able to live by themselves. Specialized assisted living facilities serve people with severe physical disabilities (e.g., quadriplegics) or those with limited mental capacity. Assisted living facilities allow residents to live with some independence, and they provide nursing care based on individual needs. These facilities often provide patients with meals, medication management, and housekeeping. Assisted living facility managers must become certified, though the requirements can vary from state to state. In this role, managers must have an understanding of the needs of the population they work with as well as be able to train staff, create schedules, manage budgets, and ensure the establishment meets high care standards and all legal requirements.

Medical Office Business Manager

Medical offices present a different challenge for healthcare administrators. In a medical office, such as a private practice or a specialists’ office, medical office business managers take on a variety of roles. Since these tend to be relatively small centers, medical office business managers are often solely responsible for a large number of administrative tasks. They are often in charge of maintaining the profit and loss
books, scheduling, training new staff, ensuring that the facility maintains quality standards, and organizing documents and forms.

Clinical Director

While medical office business managers focus on keeping the business running, clinical directors work hands-on with the medical staff in their offices. For example, a clinical director might run an infectious disease clinic in a regional medical center. That clinical director would work with the entire medical team to identify what they need for research and treatment. In addition, they might serve as an advocate with the medical center’s board to secure resources. Clinical directors also set schedules, help with billing, and set goals and inspire their team to work at their highest capacity. These professionals must be motivated, dedicated individuals who can advocate for the needs of their team and their facility’s mission.

Healthcare Administration Salaries

Salaries for healthcare administration jobs will fluctuate based on a number of factors, including the size and prestige of the facility and the experience and education of the individual. Having an advanced degree, such as a combined Master of Healthcare Administration and Master of Business Administration, can make certain candidates more valuable to organizations, resulting in higher pay.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of 2018, 36% of the country’s 350,000-plus medical and health services managers worked in hospitals. Those in this role made a median salary of $108,730. However, the higher up in management administrators climb, the more financially rewarding their work is. PayScale reports the average salary for hospital CEOs is $153,172.

Many with healthcare administration expertise choose to devote their energy to working in assisted living facilities. The BLS reports that the median annual salary for nursing and residential care facility managers is $84,260. Meanwhile, PayScale reports the average salary for assisted living administrators is $55,929.

Those with strong organization skills who are detail oriented and adept at managing paperwork often choose to pursue work as a medical office business manager. The BLS reports the median annual salary for all medical and health services managers is $99,730. Another career option for those with these skills is to become a clinical director. PayScale reports clinical directors earn an average annual salary of $75,450.

Healthcare Administration Education

A bachelor’s degree, particularly in a healthcare related field, will give you the skills you need to gain entry to the healthcare administration world. Often, though, that’s not enough to step into high-level positions. An advanced degree can be a huge boost for candidates who want to move into upper management. But a focused degree in a single discipline such as healthcare administration or business administration may not teach all of the varied skills that help professionals thrive in the evolving healthcare landscape. To secure a higher healthcare administration salary and the responsibilities and rewards that come with leadership positions, candidates might pursue an advanced education such as AHU Online’s MHA/MBA Dual Degree. This degree combines healthcare and business courses to prepare graduates for the complexities and challenges of the healthcare business world. Meanwhile, the curriculum builds on prior work experience to prepare students to serve as healthcare leaders throughout their careers.

Start Your Healthcare Administration Career Today

Careers in healthcare administration are crucial to healthcare operations at all levels. These are demanding professions that offer great rewards. Being a leader in the healthcare landscape in the 21st century means understanding the various guidelines and laws that govern all aspects of the industry and staying on top of changes in the way medical professionals provide care. Forward-thinking healthcare administrators are as aware of the latest in big data technology as they are in new procedures for cardiac patients, all with the aim of improving health outcomes. Find out more about how AHU Online’s MHA/MBA Dual Degree could springboard you into a position leading the healthcare facilities of tomorrow.

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