The health care industry in the United States may be in flux, but one thing is certain: The need for health care services is growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the economy is projected to add 2.3 million new health care jobs between 2014 and 2024.
This stunning growth is the product of a variety of industry catalysts, not the least of which is the aging baby boomer generation and the increased need for health services as they get older.
Such growth will require not only more doctors, nurses and physicians, but also more administrators who can coordinate operational needs and ensure the smooth delivery of patient services.
If you are looking for a way to enhance your career, it might be time to explore opportunities and educational prospects in health services administration.
What is health services administration?
As a patient, you likely think of health care services as a personal interaction between you and your doctor. What most patients don’t see, however, is the number of professionals who work behind the scenes in the health care industry.
A health services manager’s role in health care is to help organizations run smoothly and provide physicians with the tools they need to focus on patient success. These health care professionals interact with a wide range of workers and draw on a unique blend of skills that apply to the following job duties:
- Facility operations: Facilities management in health care goes beyond grounds keeping. At their foundation, hospitals and clinics must be designed, equipped and operated in such a way that the spread of disease is prevented and patient safety is ensured. Facility management decisions also influence a health care organization’s competitive position in the marketplace. It is no longer just up to doctors to ensure patients have a positive experience and want to choose one provider over another. Effective health care managers must consider this a core responsibility.
- Staffing and personnel management: Doctors, nurses, therapists and other health care practitioners need support in order to provide the quality care patients need. That support comes from an administrative level where managers can ensure the introduction and implementation of proper training programs and close adherence to safety protocols. They must also devise staffing schedules that do not overwork the physicians while also being responsive and adaptable to industry-wide challenges like physician shortages.
- Regulatory compliance: The health care industry is subject to laws and regulations at both the federal and state levels. Health services managers play a vital role in keeping hospitals and health care practitioners informed of developments in public policy and ensuring uninterrupted patient care when things change.
- Financial goals and investments: As with any business management role, budgeting and finance are top priorities for health care administrators. These managers are the face of the hospital or clinic when it comes to meetings with investors and financial officers who need to know the business is operating in the black. People with a knack for numbers can put those skills to good use in health services administration.
- Technology and innovation: From state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment to the emergence of telehealth and long-distance care consultations, the opportunities to shape the patient experience as administrators are endless. While doctors and nurses are busy handling day-to-day patient care, health services managers can look at the larger picture and fulfill patient needs in an ever-changing technological frontier.
Other questions to consider
Is it too late to get into health care?
The adage that “it is never too late” rings true for health care careers. Forward-thinking workers who are already a few years into their careers may capitalize on the surge in health care jobs through a strategic career change — one that can be implemented through flexible, accelerated programs that allow you to learn online while maintaining the responsibilities of your current job and daily life.
Is it worth the effort?
Qualified health services managers are in high demand due to challenging issues such as health care public policy, regulatory standards, health care facility operations, staffing and personnel obstacles, and the interaction between health care providers and insurance providers.
That demand is illustrated in the salary projections for individuals with a master’s in health services administration. The median annual income for a health services manager in May 2015 was $94,500, according to the BLS. Do note, however, that the sector of the health care industry in which you work will influence where you land on the pay spectrum.
What jobs could I land with a master’s in health services administration?
Developing a career in health services administration does not require a background in the practice of medicine.
People with a variety of baccalaureate degrees can use their educational background and career experience to become qualified for a health services management role, and those roles can fall into any number of hospital or clinical environments.
Some examples of job titles1 that a health services manager may hold include:
- Director of nursing
- Medical director
- Clinical manager
- Health director/manager
- Director of clinical services
- Nursing home administrator
- Health information manager
Could a master’s in health services administration move your career forward?
Even if you’re not looking to take on the demands of the daily life of a physician or you’re simply not willing to spend the time and money it takes to work through medical or nursing school, there could still be a place for you in health care.
A demanding industry like health care requires a workforce that is qualified and prepared for the field’s intricate administrative demands. Could you help fill that role? In a sector of the economy that is sure to continue growing, a master’s degree could be the right option to help you enhance your career.
Learn more about the specific benefits of this post-graduate degree path by visiting Hodges University’s Master of Science in Health Services Administration program page.
1Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 149,832 Medical and Health Services Manager job postings, Oct. 01, 2016 – Mar. 31, 2017).