5 Steps to Becoming a Hospital Administrator
Hospital administrators look at everything that makes the hospital for which they work function properly. They tend to have a background that has a foot in healthcare and a foot in business as well. It is very rare for hospital administrators not to hold a master’s degree at the very least. For some, this is an MHA (Master of Health Administration) degree, but, more and more often, students have an MBA (Master of Business Administration) with a healthcare specialization instead. If you are very organized, passionate and driven by improving outcomes and highly knowledgeable, you may just find that working in hospital administration is a dream job.
In that case, you may find it beneficial to know the 5 steps to becoming a hospital administrator.
1. Get to Know the Field of Hospital Administration
First of all, you need to get to know that particular field and decide whether it really is something you are interested in. One of the things you will find out is that the job is in demand. By 2016, there will be a requirement of an additional 100,000 healthcare administrators, many of whom will be hospital administrators. As such, if you have a master’s degree and you want to make a difference in the field of health care without having to do any clinical work, then this may just be the perfect career for you. Do spend some time researching the job itself, however.
2. Have an Undergraduate Degree
It is true that you need an advanced degree to become a hospital administrator, but you will first need to finish an undergraduate degree. Most schools will require you to have completed a bachelor’s degree. The benefit is that this degree does not necessarily have to be healthcare-related, as there is such a strong business focus within the MBA with healthcare specialization as well. However, you may find it is beneficial to have a bachelor’s in a nursing-related field, or in a business-related field.
3. Get Accepted by a Graduate Program
There are various MBA specializations you can choose at the graduate level. These include healthcare administration, public health, healthcare informatics and business administration. Most hospitals will require you to have your master’s in at least one of those fields. You could also choose to continue on studying and go for your doctorate degree. Either way, you have a choice of various colleges, universities and schools (medicine, public health, public administration, allied health and business administration schools) to choose from. When last counted in 2003, there were 67 schools where you could take part in an accredited health services administration master’s degree program.
It is important to understand that acceptance to a graduate program is competitive and selective. This means you must properly prepare your application before you even get started. Many schools will require letters of recommendation and admission essays that weigh heavily in terms of deciding whether or not to accept you. Hence, make sure you get good references and proofread your essay over and over again. Do not leave any of this work until the last minute either, but start working on it as soon as you know you want to enroll.
A large proportion of graduate schools will also require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) before they admit you. This is the most popular standardized test, so you might want to take a look into this. However, some schools use different tests, so that is another point of research. Taking the GRE is not unlike sitting for your SAT or ACT test, so start studying.
4. Getting Through Grad School
It is important to understand that graduate school is very different from an undergraduate program. You generally won’t have to take as many classes and many of these may be online. However, the amount of work you have to do is actually far heavier than with an undergraduate education. The expectations are high. However, you can survive it if you plan properly.
5. Get a Job
Once you have made it through your degree program, it is time to find your first job as a hospital administrator. Luckily, there is a high demand for people just like you, so you shouldn’t find it overly difficult to get a job. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the country today. And, within that, healthcare administration is one of the fastest growing specializations. Indeed, between now and 2016, growth is expected to be between 7% and 16%, depending on where you live.