5 Steps to Becoming a Hospital CFO

Hospital Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) have the responsibility of making sure that entire medical facilities run properly from a financial point of view. Their role is highly multifaceted and incredibly responsible. Becoming a hospital CFO, understandably therefore, is not something that happens over night.

Let’s take a look at the 5 steps to becoming a hospital CFO.

1. Get to Know the Job

CFOs are able to create important business strategies that lead to financial improvement across the organization they work for. Additionally, they are leaders in the administrative field and they spend a great deal of time analyzing the financial policies within the organization in which they work. Their role is also to create and pilot new policies that lead to financial improvement. As such, their role is not just about balancing the books. Rather, they also have to ensure that they can make an organization more profitable, or at least to expand the profit base of the hospital.

As a CFO, you will be under a lot of pressure and in high demand. As a result, you can expect a very interesting salary as well, being one of the best paid roles within hospital organization as a whole. The top salaries for hospital CFOs lie in the region of $257,000 per year. Those who have the highest levels of education also receive the highest salaries.

2. Get an Undergraduate Degree

There are no set rules on the level of education for a CFO, but a bachelor’s degree is generally the minimum requirement. The choice you will have to make is whether you want to get educated in the field of healthcare, or rather in the field of business. Technically, you can become a hospital CFO with just a bachelor’s degree, or even if you are a CPA (certified public accountant). However, most hospitals are now looking for more highly educated professionals.

3. Get Some Experience

Because competition for top level jobs is high, it is important to have not just a good education, but also a lot of experience. If you can demonstrate that you have applicable skills to the world of hospital finance, you certainly stand a better chance of moving up the ladder. Hence, once you achieve your bachelor’s degree, you may want to start working in the finance department of a hospital or other medical institution in order to gain that necessary experience.

The skills hospitals are looking for are highly results-orientated. A CFO should be a true visionary. This is necessary because the responsibility you will carry is very high. A CFO is seen as a business partner rather than an employee. At the same time, you need to have a great practical understanding of accounting, finance and personnel management. Hence, you may also want to gain some experience working as an accountant for some sort of financial situation, where you are able to get a fiscal understanding as well.

4. Get a Graduate Education

Now that you have your bachelor’s degree and you have some experience, you should consider getting a master’s degree. This will allow you to move further up the ladder and have a heads up on your competition as well. There are various master’s degrees you may want to consider, but the MBA (master of business administration) with a healthcare specialization is particularly popular. Alternatively, you could consider the MHA (master of healthcare administration). However, admission to this program will generally require you to have a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field. Many hospital CFOs have a background in science, rather than healthcare or the pharmaceutical industry.

5. Find a Job as a Hospital CFO

Once you have gained your graduate education, you are ready to find a job as a hospital CFO. This can be quite difficult. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that demand for workers in the world of healthcare is on the rise. However, with top level executive positions, competition is very fierce. Naturally, there are only so many hospitals in the country anyway. Additionally, most CFOs have found a job for life, meaning they will stay in that position until retirement, because there is very little opportunity for further growth. You may, therefore, want to consider working in other healthcare organizations first, while always keeping your eye out for a hospital CFO position. Alternatively, you could take up a position as a senior financial manager and wait until the position of CFO becomes available.

References:

  • http://www.bls.gov
  • http://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2012/01/18/hospital-ceo
  • http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/what-does-it-take-to-be-a-hospital-cfo-today-6-thoughts-from-lowell-general-hospital-cfo-susan-green.html
  • http://www.inc.com