Skills You Need for a Healthcare Administration Career

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If you are passionate about healthcare, business-savvy, love helping others, and have strong administrative abilities, then working in healthcare administration might be an ideal career for you. Perhaps you know that you want to advance in a career in the healthcare or medical field, but behind the scenes rather than on the front line of healthcare in a role as a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional. If this sounds like you, then a career in healthcare administration could be a great fit. But aside from the education that you need to succeed in these roles, what skills do you need for a great career in healthcare administration? 

Soft Skills in Healthcare Administration

Although there are many job-specific skills that are involved in becoming a healthcare administration professional that you will have the opportunity to develop with education and training, chances are that you already possess many of the soft skills that will be essential when working in a healthcare administration position. 

Communication Skills

Communication is a must-have skill no matter what industry you work in. In health administration, communication is something that happens on a daily basis, but is especially important when it comes to explaining procedures, policies, and regulations to employees. Regardless of whether this communication is done via email, face-to-face, or over the phone, it’s crucial that healthcare administrators are able to be particular and clear when it comes to putting their expectations across. Along with being able to communicate clearly, this means that healthcare administrators also need to be self-aware and mindful of not only what they are saying, but how it is coming across to others. 

Planning

Healthcare is an industry that is always changing. New laws and regulations are often coming into place, changing the ways that healthcare providers and facilities practice. Things that patients read in the news might cause them to change certain ways that they look after their health from the conditions that they make appointments to see the doctor for or the treatments that they opt to receive.

Each year, insurance companies will often update their coverage and requirements, and standards change regularly as healthcare research improves and policymakers get more insights into what works and what doesn’t. Because of this, a healthcare administrator must be a skilled planner. This skill is something that you may already possess and will have the opportunity to develop further with an Executive MHA degree from uOttawa. To succeed, healthcare administration professionals need to be knowledgeable of industry standards and ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing changes. 

Teamwork

Teamwork is a common thing that you’ll see mentioned by healthcare administration candidates in resumes and cover letters, but while claiming that you are a team player might be something that’s fairly easy to do, putting it into practice in the context of running a healthcare practice or organisation is a completely different thing. Experts say that the best team players are people who quietly go out of their way to help. They recognise what needs to be done and don’t need to be recognised to do it. They work well with other people and are always looking for new ways to work together in more efficient and effective ways. 

Mentoring

When working in a healthcare administration role, mentoring can be one of the most rewarding parts of the job. Mentoring others provides an opportunity for professionals to teach others what they have learned over the years and even become more motivated themselves when they see how enthusiastic their mentees are about their job. Mentorship can be any way in which you provide advice or even serve as a soundboard to other people in your role. In the workplace, healthcare administrators will often be responsible for hiring, training, and motivating other employees. This will often include informal mentoring with positive feedback and constructive criticism to build confidence and trust. Whether you want to get into a more formal mentorship position such as getting into teaching within healthcare administration, or simply want to be able to mentor and guide others in a more informal way, having a passion for helping others will help you move forward in a healthcare administration career. 

Problem Solving

To be successful as a healthcare administration professional, you will need to possess strong problem-solving skills. In these roles, emergency situations are sure to arise, whether you are dealing with a medical crisis, administrative conflicts, or clinical issues. Situations such as these demand that healthcare administrators are able to respond with positive solutions, creative thinking, and the confidence to act fact. People who are most likely to succeed in healthcare administration tend to be professionals who can quickly sense when things are likely to go wrong, enabling them to start coming up with solutions and minimising damage as soon as possible. 

Technical Skills Needed for Healthcare Administration

While soft skills can certainly help you get into a healthcare administration role and take your career further, technical skills are also required for these roles. These skills will often require some formal education or training in order to develop and perfect them. Some of the main technical skills that are required for a role as a healthcare administrator include:

Patient Care

While healthcare administrators work in the business side of healthcare and business and administration skills are necessary for these roles, a strong understanding of patient care and medicine is absolutely crucial for working in these positions. Healthcare administrators are required to have a holistic view of improving patient care in order to enable them to account for every aspect of the patient experience from making appointments to arriving at the hospital or clinic.

The best healthcare administrators are not necessarily past healthcare professionals, but have some basic knowledge of conditions, diseases, injuries, and their symptoms, treatments, and preventative measures that can be taken. Beyond this, they should also have an understanding of the day-to-day work of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals and take an interest in them through shadowing their work and asking questions. 

Business Operations and Administration

While hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings might not be the first things that come to mind when you think about a business, healthcare administrators need to have a strong understanding and skill set when it comes to business principles in order to be effective in their roles. Healthcare administrators are professionals who are often responsible for making sure that organisations meet financial and productivity goals, and for keeping hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities competitive in a healthcare market that is rapidly growing. In order to do this successfully, healthcare administrators should be strategic planners with a strong business and management knowledge and skill-set. 

Data Analysis

In order to find efficient ways of maximising healthcare data to achieve more accurate diagnosis and more effective treatment, the healthcare industry needs data analysis. While this does not mean that healthcare administrators need to be skilled in coding or creating machine-learning algorithms, they should have a basic understanding of how to gather and make sense of data to make better-informed decisions. Today, modern healthcare facilities depend heavily on electronic patient record systems, which means that there is lots of valuable data available to be gathered, analysed, and applied to improve clinical efficiency. 

Quality Control and Assurance

Quality assurance refers to work that is carried out to make sure that standards are being met. Healthcare administrators are often responsible for not only coming up with these standards but also for intervening when things are not up to standard. Administrators may be responsible for seeking feedback that can be acted upon using a range of tools such as online reviews or patient comment cards.

However, these can often offer an incomplete view of how things are really going since only some patients will engage with them. This means that healthcare administrators must often take a more involved approach to quality control and assurance by building a culture of accountability that relies more heavily on trusted employees to identify and address issues that arise before they grow into bigger problems. 

Budgeting

Budgeting is a crucial skill that every healthcare administrator must possess. Any organisation, including hospitals and clinical practices, need to know if their operations are profitable and having a budget means that they can be held to account. Budgeting is a necessary skill that allows administrators to better plan for future expenses such as purchasing new equipment, hiring more employees or having emergency repair work carried out when needed.

Healthcare administrators should have a strong understanding of the expenses that are associated with operating their facility and any factors that have the potential to change the profitability of the organisation, along with how to budget in order to ensure that these changes are accounted for. 

How to Become a Healthcare Administrator

If you have many of the soft skills required to become a healthcare administrator and feel that this role might be a good fit for you, then you may be wondering how to get started on the journey of pursuing a career in healthcare administration. Healthcare administration is a career that offers competitive salaries, a high projected rate of employment growth, and many benefits and opportunities for professionals. 

While the employer requirements may vary for healthcare administration positions, a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or a related field is usually the minimum requirement. To get into this career, you will need to do the following:

Get a Bachelor’s Degree

There are several bachelor’s degree options that you may want to consider if you want to get into a career in healthcare administration. If you are already working as a healthcare professional and have a relevant bachelor’s degree such as a bachelor’s degree in nursing or public health, this will be a great starting point for your healthcare administration career. Common undergraduate degree programs taken by healthcare administration professionals include healthcare administration and business management. While choosing your bachelor’s degree, consider courses that cover healthcare topics, general management, and finance. It will usually take around four years to complete your bachelor’s degree and you can find programs available online. 

Get Healthcare Administration Experience

Getting a bachelor’s degree will present you with opportunities in entry-level healthcare management positions. The type of work experience that you should aim to get will depend on your overall career goals. For example, if you want to work as a long-term facility manager in the future, experience in a healthcare profession such as a registered nurse may be useful. On the other hand, other employers may require you to have gained some administrative experience in a clinical setting. 

Get a Graduate Degree

While a graduate degree may not always be a requirement to work in a healthcare administration career, it can significantly benefit you when it comes to improving your salary potential and advancing your career further. It will usually take around two years to gain a master’s degree and there are various options available that may be useful for this career path including healthcare administration, public health, or dual degrees that cover both subjects. 

Job Outlook for Healthcare Administrators

If you want to get into the fast-growing field of healthcare administration, you can look forward to over 50,000 projected job openings between now and 2030. Most of these positions are likely to be available working in hospitals, although more long-term care facilities are likely to be hiring as a result of the aging population.

Common work settings for healthcare administration professionals include hospitals, where healthcare administrators oversee departments or manage the entire hospital. Nursing homes also employ healthcare administrators to work in a role where they manage staff, finances, facility admissions, and building maintenance. Healthcare administrators are also hired by health information management departments to manage and secure patient records and make sure that they comply with health information systems regulations and laws. 

Healthcare administration is a fast-growing career option where professionals have the chance to work in a setting where they can improve healthcare and patient care from behind the scenes. If you are interested in advancing your healthcare career but do not necessarily want to work at the bedside, this could be the ideal option for you. 

Heather Jones
Heather Jones
Heather Jones is the Social Good reporter at Businessner, covering online stories about digital activism, climate justice, accessibility, and more. Outside Businessner, Heather is an avid film watcher, bread maker, concert goer, and California enthusiast. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

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