6 Healthcare Administration Careers You Could Land with an MHA
By Brianna Flavin on 08/17/2018
Despite the sometimes-intimidating medical terminology that comes with the specialized roles of healthcare practitioners, it’s actually easier to research and understand the duties of these positions when compared to the duties of the administrators overseeing them. Job titles like physician, nurse, anesthetist and X-ray technician come with pretty clear distinctions. But those clear lines of distinction blur substantially when trying to make sense of what’s out there for healthcare administration careers.
For one thing, many of these roles sound pretty similar—half of them have “administrator” in the title! For another, there just isn’t that much awareness about this side of the healthcare industry.
And that’s a shame, because healthcare administration professionals literally keep healthcare systems and facilities running. They manage hospitals, navigate seriously complicated finances, implement programs that maximize safety and tackle a huge array of other duties that the healthcare industry could not do without.
“Healthcare is challenging to navigate and is the most heavily regulated industry,” says Jim Schafer of the Hatfield Medical Group. Healthcare administration is no joke—there’s a lot of industry-specific knowledge these professionals need to have on board. That’s why so many of these careers require a Master’s degree.
“Administrator roles ensure that people get the healthcare they need every day,” Schafer says. “We do it from behind the scenes.”
Common duties across healthcare administration careers
Many of the careers in healthcare administration have similar daily tasks. Since all of these positions exist to keep healthcare systems and facilities running, there’s quite a bit of overlap.
For example, almost all professionals in these careers will supervise other employees (potentially all employees at a facility) and evaluate their work. They all will likely play a key role in hiring and recruitment, and most will spend time developing and implementing new policies and procedures for their facility as needed.
Since healthcare is such a heavily regulated field, all professionals in healthcare administration will have some duties associated with compliance and making sure their institution is up to code and legal. They will also most likely work with insurance carriers and other healthcare facilities, specialists and providers.
6 Healthcare administration careers to consider
Now that you have an idea of how healthcare administration careers fit into the healthcare industry, let’s take a closer look at some of the specific job titles you could land with an MHA.
1. Hospital administrator
Put simply, hospital administrators plan and direct the delivery of healthcare within a hospital. They ensure that hospitals operate efficiently while providing optimal medical care to their patients.
Some daily tasks in this job might be planning budgets and departmental activities, developing protocols and overseeing quality assurance.
Hospital administrators might work as part of an administration team in a larger facility, or as generalists in a smaller facility. Since healthcare changes very quickly, it’s important that they keep an eye to new technologies and research, the complex regulatory environment, health insurance changes and an increased focus on preventive care for patients.
2. Practice manager
A practice manager (sometimes called practice administrator) is responsible for overseeing smooth daily operation of a medical practice, according to Schafer. This involves overall management such as coordinating staff and integrating clinic activities with other health agencies.
Common duties for this position include planning and implementing the clinic’s business plans, recommending improvements, overseeing recruitment and employee performance, overseeing financial affairs with the accounting team, leading meetings to address concerns and changes and so much more.
Practice managers work at bridging professionals from different fields. Running a clinic requires working with professionals in finance, accounting, insurance, business, medicine, health science and more. “Practice administrators need to keep the lines of communication open with staff to ensure high employee morale and a professional, healthful clinic atmosphere,” Schafer says. “I have to be a jack-of-all-trades.”
3. Clinical director
Though all healthcare administration positions involve business-mindedness, clinical directors spend more time focused in on patient care. “Clinical directors are much more involved in the day-to-day patient care services and have oversight of clinical patient care,” Schafer explains.
Clinical directors are responsible for overseeing and developing the clinical department, which involves hiring evaluation and scheduling. They provide clinical training to clinical staff and interns. This position usually involves problem solving, strong decision-making skills and critical thinking.
“An administrator can have those responsibilities as well,” Schafer says. “But they typically have a broader role and vision regarding operational focus.”
4. Long-term care administrator
Long-term care administrators manage long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living centers in the same way that hospital administrators manage hospitals. The purpose of the position is similar, but since long-term care facilities have such unique requirements, these professionals wind up with different knowledge bases than their hospital counterparts.
The main job of long-term care administrators is to provide residents with a high quality of life while ensuring smooth and profitable operations. This definitely includes medical and personal care, but also involves other factors like facility operations, community endeavors and programs.
Common responsibilities include establishing policies, overseeing resident care, promoting their facility, ensuring compliance with legislation and handling grievances.
The day-to-day life of a career in long-term care administration is a balancing act of keeping everything running smoothly, dealing with emergencies when they arise and looking to the future business plans of the institution. It requires both high-level and detailed thinking.
5. Admissions coordinator or director
“In my daily duties, I wear many hats as I primarily oversee the pre-admission and admission processes,” says Robert Lien, MHA and admissions coordinator at CAST Centers. Lien explains that his position involves working closely with clinical staff, senior leaders, digital media and marketing specialists as well as alumni coordinators.
“Healthcare administration, in my experience, has been a delicate balance of patient safety and staff safety while also being financially responsible to all stakeholders,” Lien says. “The screening process that I helped create allows us to gather information regarding the patient’s current medical and mental health status. This helps us evaluate a level of care recommendation that will determine the cost for services.”
This process of screening and deciding care involves a working knowledge of different insurance companies, policies and potential for reimbursement rates, Lien says. “Additionally, I have to stay on top of licensing and accreditations that may have an impact on the facility’s policies and procedures.”
A satisfying aspect of this role is working with the staff to make a greater impact on patients. “While I do not have very much direct patient contact, I do get great pleasure in developing internal talent and looking for ways to help those I work with continue to improve personally and professionally,” Lien says.
6. Health services manager (also called medical services manager)
Health services managers have many of the same responsibilities as other healthcare administration roles, but their focus tends to be a bit more granular. They plan and implement programs in a health care or medical facility, including personnel administration and coordination of medical, nursing and other staff.
Health services managers prepare activity reports and create new initiatives to enhance services and quality of care. They also establish work schedules for staff and act as a bridge between medical employees and administrative personnel. They might spend more time with medical teams than the average healthcare administrative professional.
These professionals also tend to be knowledgeable of the technology used by their healthcare focus area, keeping an eye on advancements and new equipment. Health services managers might also inspect facilities and recommend building or equipment modifications to ensure emergency readiness and compliance to access, safety and sanitation regulations.
“Health services manager roles can vary based upon their area of oversight,” Schafer says. “They work in primary care, surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics, etc. Those roles usually work within a larger organization and report up to an administrator.”
Influencing life-saving change
Your mind might be reeling with all these career-specific details, but the necessity of healthcare administration careers in healthcare today can’t be overstated. We need these professionals to make healthcare better, safer, more efficient and more financially sustainable.
If you are the kind of person who likes looking at the big picture, or if you prefer to manage the small details—and most especially if you like both of those things, then one of these healthcare administration careers could be the perfect fit for you if you have the right credentials.
Learn more about how the Rasmussen University Healthcare Administration Master’s program can help you land one of these advanced healthcare careers.