Being able to change lives (and often even save lives) every day is one of the most significant and rewarding parts of working in healthcare. But the need for meaningful change in healthcare also goes beyond the individual level. If you're looking to advance your healthcare career, moving into healthcare administration can allow you to take on greater responsibilities and have a greater impact on the world. Public healthcare administrators help shape the future of healthcare on a local, regional and national level.
WHAT DOES A PUBLIC HEALTHCARE ADMINISTRATOR DO?
Different roles fall under the umbrella of healthcare administration, including healthcare managers, health services managers and healthcare executives.1 Public healthcare administrators focus on improving the health of the population at large, sometimes as part of a particular hospital or clinic. Public health administrators focus on the bigger picture, identifying overarching health-related problems in their communities and developing programs to help combat those problems. This often takes the form of outreach and educating the public.
As administrators, these individuals create budgets, manage staff, and report the results of their programs.2 They make improvements to the systems they are part of and keep things running smoothly.
Many healthcare administrators have backgrounds working in healthcare, often in clinical settings, although having worked as a physician or clinician is not necessary for this career.3 Public healthcare administrators can work in many potential environments, including hospitals, state and federal public health departments, not-for-profit organizations and schools.3
WHAT SKILLS ARE IMPORTANT TO SUCCEED AS A PUBLIC HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATOR
Public healthcare administrators are responsible for working behind-the-scenes to develop programs, but they may also be public-facing representatives sharing information with or helping educate their communities. This can be a very demanding role requiring collaboration, confidence, and enough devotion to the cause to be willing to work hard for long hours.
Public healthcare administrators should be excellent at:
- Communication (written and spoken)
- Delegation of authority
- Goal setting
- Data analysis
- Policy development
- Leadership (including managing staff)
- Public speaking
HOW TO BECOME A HEALTHCARE ADMINISTRATOR
While there's no one set path to becoming a public healthcare administrator, most administration roles have similar requirements. As you move up into positions of greater authority and responsibility, the expectations for both your training and experience levels increase significantly.
- Pursue higher education. At a minimum, entry-level healthcare administration positions require a bachelor's degree. To advance further down this career path, you'll need a master's degree.1
- Your undergraduate education should include specialized study in topics such as anatomy and physiology, medical coding and terminology, medical office management and health records management4 — a mixture of medical knowledge and administrative knowledge.
- Master's in Public Health coursework should dive deeper into financial, legal and ethical concerns in healthcare, which will prepare you not just for administrative positions but for executive/leadership roles.3 You'll study both health-focused courses and business administration, finance and communication.2
- Choosing the right graduate program is vital because it can have a huge impact on your career by making you far more competitive in the job market.1 Pick a school with an excellent reputation, as well as classmates and faculty members who will strengthen your personal network.
- Gain work experience.1 Once you have a bachelor's degree, you may choose to enter the workforce in an entry-level capacity in administration and gain firsthand experience that way. You can also gain experience through an internship, a fellowship or a residency, especially if you have already worked in the healthcare industry and want to build out your resume with more advanced experience as part of a master's degree program.
- Get certified.3 Certification may not be strictly necessary for all healthcare administrator positions, but being able to say you're a certified public healthcare administrator lets prospective employers know you're qualified and competent in your field. It's one way of proving your dedication and expertise, two attributes that are especially important for healthcare administrators.
- Continue your education.4 The field of healthcare is constantly evolving, so your education doesn't stop with a degree. You'll need to be prepared to stay on top of changes and updates in your industry by joining industry organizations, participating in professional conferences, and keeping up with healthcare journals. You may also choose to earn additional industry certifications and keep those certifications up-to-date.
PUBLIC HEALTHCARE ADMINISTRATOR CAREERS
Job titles include:5
- Evaluation specialist
- Program manager
- Program director
- Project director
- Program coordinator
- Public health policy analyst
- Public health advisor
- Public health consultant
Become a public healthcare administrator and move into a high-paying career where you'll be in a position to have a positive impact on the health of an entire community. Demand for public healthcare administrators is high and will only continue to grow. Getting a master's degree will help you stand out in this competitive field.6 By choosing a highly regarded, well-connected program like the online Master of Public Health program at Kent State University, you'll strengthen your resume and develop the skills you need to succeed.