Healthcare administrative work can be a rewarding and lucrative career path, allowing you to make a true difference in your community by helping to ensure that it has access to the highest possible level of care.
But like any good job, finding success takes time and commitment. The positions are competitive, and when you get one, you still have to jump through all of the right hoops to climb your way to the top.
In this article, we provide an overview of what it looks like to chart a successful career in the world of health administration. Read on to learn more!
Acquiring a Solid Educational Foundation
Naturally, it all begins with a solid educational foundation. To get a job in a hospital you will first need to acquire a relevant degree. Most people going into hospital administration will begin by getting an administrative degree.
You should leave school with a solid understanding of the principles of healthcare management, ethics, and the various but extremely important legal requirements that dictate how a hospital must handle files and communications.
It is worth pointing out that for people who are trying to go all the way to the top, an undergraduate degree is just a stepping stone. You should also consider getting a master’s degree in a field that is related to your specific career specialty.
There are both administrative and business-related master’s degrees with a specific healthcare emphasis. Naturally, there are also many trainings and certifications you can get to further strengthen your resume. Seeking certifications from recognized organizations such as the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) or the Healthcare Leadership Alliance (HLA) can enhance credibility and demonstrate a commitment to professional development.
If you are already working in hospital administration, inquire with your employers about opportunities for additional training and education. Your hospital may have programs in place to help employees pay for furthering their education.
Developing Strong Leadership and Communication Skills
Hospitals aren’t so different than any other business. They thrive on strong leadership and clear communication. To be a successful hospital administrator, you need to demonstrate both. Your employer isn’t going to bump you up in the hopes that one day soon you will start showing leadership potential.
They need to be able to see your strong qualities long before promotion time. Keep in mind that true leadership is not about telling people what to do. It’s about collaborating in a way that helps bring out the best in everyone on the team.
Strong leadership skills require clear communication, great organization, and efficient goal-setting and implementation. But it also involves an entire set of soft skills that are a little harder to learn. You need to demonstrate that you understand the hospital’s culture and can play an important role in maintaining and expanding it.
It sounds a little abstract. In fact, it is. However, there are more objective metrics by which you can determine what your hospital is looking for. Your company website, for example. There will inevitably be mission statements and about us pages. Testimonials and so on.
Public-facing copy that has been carefully crafted to communicate a set of values. Now, most people disregard this text for the HR/marketing mumbo jumbo that it is. But you know better. You know that the words a hospital uses to explain itself to the public closely align with how the powers that be want said hospital to be perceived and understood by the public.
For example, if the hospital’s published copy describes a desire for inclusivity and kindness, they will want to promote administrators who embody those qualities.
As a leader, you will come into contact with community members and stakeholders. It is important for everyone that you closely embody the image the hospital is trying to promote.
In today’s digital age, a successful career in hospital administration involves a keen understanding and embrace of technological advancements. Healthcare systems are increasingly relying on innovative technologies to streamline processes, enhance patient care, and improve overall efficiency.
The migration towards Electronic Health Records is an excellent, though now almost dated example. As most people reading this probably know, patient records now exist in the cloud. It’s an important technology that speeds up care and gives the patient more autonomy. It also comes with a whole host of rules and regulations that hospitals must understand and follow.
But when it comes to healthcare tech, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Hospitals are moving more and more toward promoting people who can understand and leverage data to improve everything from resource management to higher-level strategic planning.
Hospitals are also increasing their investment in telehealth— services that allow patients to communicate with their physicians from the comfort of their homes. As a future leader, you need to be able to demonstrate a strong understanding of technological trends so that you can help your hospital choose the right solutions.
Keep in mind that many people who are committed to a career in healthcare— particularly administrative leadership— need to be a little flexible about where they are willing to work. It’s a pretty simple equation.
Unless you live in a very large city, there may only be two or three hospitals that are within a comfortable driving distance of your home.
When the number of hospitals are limited, the number of leadership positions are as well. Healthcare professionals living in smaller communities often find that they have two choices: they can camp out in their current location and hope that they get the promotion the next time someone above them retires, or they can migrate somewhere that already has the opening they are looking to fill.
Does that mean you can’t be a hometown hero and land a dream healthcare job in your own community? Of course not. Many people do exactly that.
It does mean that you may need to modify your expectations. If you want to climb the career ladder quickly, you might need to be willing to broaden your search.
Regardless of how you approach your career management, the important thing is to remain dedicated to professional development and excellence. Do that and you will meet your goals while ensuring that the people who rely on your good work are treated to the best possible care.
Healthcare careers are competitive, but they are also very merit-based. Demonstrative the right combination of skill and commitment and your career will thrive.