What Does a Healthcare Administrator Do?

Because the healthcare field is always going to be needed, healthcare administration is a career choice that is less likely to suffer in hard economic times. But what, exactly, does a healthcare administrator do?

Choosing healthcare administration gives you the chance to work in the medical field without having to go to nursing or medical school.

One way to describe healthcare administration is to say that it is the “business side” of any healthcare facility. While doctors, nurses, and other specialists deal directly with patient care, healthcare administrators focus on tasks such as policy administration, budgeting, human resources and staffing, and marketing and advertising.

Some administrators oversee the entire facility, while others may focus only on one specific department such as nursing, staffing, marketing, or finance. Those that focus on one department are called specialists while the administrators that oversee the entire operation are usually called generalists.

Healthcare administrators work in hospitals, nursing care facilities, outpatient service clinics, and any other healthcare-related facility. Their job, in general, is to keep the business of the facility running smoothly so that the doctors and nurses can do their job of tending to patients.

Administrators, and the people that work for them, may be called upon to answer complaints and concerns about hospital or facility policy, help with insurance problems, and a wide variety of other tasks.

One way to look at healthcare administration is to consider that it is similar to business administration, but specifically geared toward the needs and concerns one would encounter in a healthcare facility.

For this reason, those wishing to seek a career in this field would need a degree specifically in healthcare administration. For many positions, especially with a larger facility, a master's degree may be required. Other positions would require only a bachelor's degree, and after years of work experience you may still be able to land a generalist job at a larger facility based on that experience.

Choosing healthcare administration gives you the chance to work in the medical field without having to go to nursing or medical school. It is a great option for people who want to work in this field, but may not excel in math or science.

Healthcare administrators, and those who work for them, while they do not treat patients, are often in contact with them during intake and release, to help with billing questions and to discuss concerns relating to policies. For this reason, it is important to have good customer service skills as much as it is to learn the ins and outs of administration.

There has certainly been a trend of late in which more and more healthcare facilities have begun to be run more like businesses with profit – rather than patient care – being both the motivating factor and the bottom line. Regardless of how you feel about this, it is the reality and it is not likely to change.

This is one of the reasons that good healthcare administrators are so important. While part of your responsibility will be focused on sound financials, you will also be in a position to be sure that patient care does not suffer as a result. You can work to be sure that policies are put in place, and enforced, that keep the patients' rights first.

Healthcare administrators often seek creative ways to keep costs down without causing the patients to suffer. This job is going to become increasingly important over the next several years.

A career in healthcare administration is rewarding, both financially and in terms of knowing that the work you are doing can have a positive impact on those who seek medical care at the facility at which you work.