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Career Spotlight: Health administration

Health administration professional with other medical professionals

Health administrators play a critical role in the healthcare and medical service industry. Sometimes referred to as medical and health service managers or healthcare executives, those in this role may have a range of titles depending upon the facility or organization’s structure, or the roles area of focus. Regardless of title, health administrators are essential in the effective and seamless operation of medical service providers.

What does a health administrator do?

The type of work a health administrator does depends upon the organization they work for along with the focus of their experience and expertise. For instance, the daily work of someone with a focus on gerontology within a long-term care facility will be different than someone who works within a hospital setting.

Additionally, the responsibilities of a health administrator also vary by level of leadership in the organization. Some in this role may be involved in fiscal decision making, directing changes in policy to conform to changes in healthcare law and other high-level responsibilities. Others, however, may be more involved in staffing decisions, training, managing budgets and helping to improve the efficiency and quality of healthcare delivery.

Health administrators may oversee an entire facility, a medical practice or they may be responsible for a single department. In large organizations, such as hospitals, an administrator may focus on clinical and surgical services, with others in similar roles over various areas of the organization. This type of structure requires a great deal of communication and cooperation to ensure that the needs of the patient as well as the business are protected.

How do you become a health administrator?

Every organization has requirements regarding the education and experience needed to work in this position. In regards to education, master’s degrees are common and sometimes required. Some seek doctoral degrees to further distinguish themselves in the job market. Common degrees useful for those interested in entering this field are health administration and health management, although additional degree plans may apply.

Work related experience is also a common requirement, but it varies greatly by organization. For example, those seeking to work as a health administrator for a hospital often need to have some administrative experience within a healthcare facility. Similarly, those overseeing specific types of departments or practices are also often required to have a background within those fields. There are, of course, exceptions based on the policies of the organization.

Health administrators don’t typically need any type of license, with the exception of those working as nursing home administrators which have to be licensed by the state.  Sometimes, however, an organization requires applicants to hold other licenses to be considered for employment, such as a nursing or social work license.

For career enhancement, some health administrators choose to be certified by or members of professional associations. Two such organizations are the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management and the American Health Information Management Association. This can provide networking and continuing education opportunities.

Career potential and degree information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field of medical and health services managers is expected to grow 20 percent between 2016 and 2026. This level of growth is considered much faster than average when compared to other occupations. Please visit our School of Health Sciences to learn more about pursing a degree in this dynamic field