There is a side of healthcare many people don’t notice. It’s not the doctors, nurses, and medical assistants we typically see on the clinical side; it’s the healthcare administrators who ensure services are delivered efficiently and are consistently available. In short, a healthcare administrator plans, directs, and coordinates healthcare services and is primarily focused on the nonclinical aspects of healthcare, including finance, human resources, and compliance.1 Let’s take a closer look at what they do, and learn why a Master of Healthcare Administration is critical for a career in the field.
The financial aspect of healthcare involves a complex system of billing codes, insurance requirements, and tight margins. Typical financial duties for a healthcare administrator include:
- Managing facility budgets, including payroll, the purchase of new medical devices, and even budgeting for expanded locations.
- Controlling labor costs, ensuring all areas of need are met within the allocated budget.
- Overseeing accounts payable and accounts receivable.2
While it may seem like a degree in finance would be necessary for these aspects of the job, in fact, the necessary finance skills can be gained through a health administration degree, specifically a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA).
A critical component of any healthcare organization is having solid human resources practices. This includes hiring the right people, terminating the necessary staff, and making sure all roles are filled to provide necessary patient care. This responsibility falls to healthcare administrators. In larger organizations, they may manage the human resources department; in small organizations, they may be the entire department. In addition to hiring and firing, healthcare administrators play a role in ensuring staff members are satisfied, professional licenses are maintained, and well-performing staff members are rewarded.3 For healthcare administrators, the human resources component of the job requires a delicate balance between strong interpersonal skills and knowledge best learned through an MHA degree program.
Maintaining compliance with federal, state, and local laws is essential for all healthcare organizations—otherwise, they risk significant financial penalties. Compliance for billing, occupational safety and health, and privacy and security can all fall within the duties of a healthcare administrator. As with human resources, large organizations might have a compliance department that’s managed by the healthcare administrator, while smaller ones may be managed by a single person. Duties can include training as well as policy and procedure development. While these tasks may seem best suited for a lawyer, in fact, a Master of Healthcare Administration program is ideal training.
A Rapidly Growing Field
The healthcare industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy. In fact, it is projected to grow 20% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than all other occupations.4 As the field continues to grow, so does the need for highly qualified candidates. A bachelor’s degree in health administration is generally a requirement for entry-level positions. But a bachelor’s degree might not be enough for advancement. A Master of Healthcare Administration is often the path to more rapid career advancement.
As we have seen, healthcare administrators have a wide range of duties that require skills and experience across many disciplines. That is why earning a Master of Healthcare Administration while working in management or as a healthcare clinician can build a strong skill set for a career as a healthcare administrator. This can be accomplished by earning an MHA degree from an accredited online university—allowing you to gain valuable experience in a relevant field while earning your degree at the same time.
A career as a healthcare administrator can be highly challenging yet rewarding—the perfect career for someone who wants to make a positive impact in healthcare without being a clinician. While it is a growing field, it requires strong experience and education. A Master of Healthcare Administration from an online university can be the ideal way to secure a career.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Healthcare Administration degree program online. With Walden University, you can gain the skills and experience you need for a career in a rapidly growing field.
4Source: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm5Source: https://learn.org/articles/What_Does_a_Health_Administrator_Do.html
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.