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What is Health Care Administration?
Health care administration is the area of study and practice that prepares individuals for the management and operation of health care facilities and professionals, including the development and maintaining of budgets, hiring and firing, scheduling and other administrative tasks in a hospital or clinical setting combined with an understanding of medical procedure, cost and terminology that allows for proper review, oversight and decision making in light how it may affect business overall. Individuals in this field may or may not be medical professionals, though many in charge of specific departments have backgrounds as physicians or long term health care professionals.
Obtaining a degree in health care administration prepares individuals to work in the health care industry as managers. Health care administration is the process by which the health care is planned out, coordinated, supervised and implemented. Degrees in health care administration are available from the bachelor's level on, though most individuals will seek at least a master's degree. It is important to note that similar degrees can also be obtained to work as a health care administrator, such as a business administration degree or public health. A master's program can take between 2-3 years to complete and will often include a year of supervised administrative work.
Health care administration programs emphasize the development of certain skills deemed important for a working professional in such an environment. Such skills provide individuals with the ability to manage groups and operate the business. Some of these skills include problem solving, communication, analytical ability, technical skill, and an attention to detail. Additionally an emphasis on medical terminology and an understanding of medical procedures is also developed in order to ensure that the administrator is able to function in a health care environment.
Courses offered in a health care administration program may include:
- Health Care Finance
- Health Care Operations
- Health Care Human Relations Management
- Strategic Marketing and Communication
- Organization Development
Employment Opportunities and Specialization
Though a bachelor's degree may be sufficient for some entry level positions, a master's degree is typically required for advancement. A health care manager will have varying responsibilities based on where he or she will work. In a smaller setting a health care manager may be responsible for policy, financing and hiring, whereas in a larger setting such a hospital he or she may only be responsible for a specific department and physicians will outline policy. Health care administration is expected to grow faster than average in the coming years as the need for effective healthcare management increases. This is a competitive field, beginning at the post-secondary level where space is limited.
Healthcare administrators work in a variety of medical facilities with varying levels of responsibility. Larger locations will have more administrators with specializations and a hierarchy. Some will oversee departments, setting schedules and running day to day tasks. Smaller locations will have fewer administrators with a larger set of responsibilities. Locations for employment include hospitals, physician's offices, nursing homes, clinics, outpatient care centers and other.
Individuals may seek to specialize in healthcare administration. This is accomplished by focusing on a particular form of administration, and the type of healthcare provided. Specialization is normally obtained through work experience, though additional classes may be taken to augment one's education in regards to their desired field. Often individuals may become specialized through availability of positions and longevity, though no specialization should preclude an individual from lateral movement or promotion.
Salary, Related Fields and Additional Information
The average salary of a health care administrator is $80,000. The average wage increases in settings that serve more physicians, usually in large hospitals located in populated urban centers. Experience and education also play a factor in increasing one's wages, with individuals holding degrees and having a work history in administration earning more than individuals who have entered the field through alternative means.
Those interested in health care administration may also be interested in medical administration, business administration and medical insurance specialist.