Although it may sound rather limited, the field of healthcare administration and management is actually a far-reaching and diverse industry with a multitude of job opportunities. Those who realize early on that they wish to pursue a career in the field can often get a leg up on the competition by obtaining a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration. Other people complete more general degrees in areas such as business or finance, and they may need to continue on to receive a master's degree in healthcare management in order to be qualified for jobs within this career path. Even students who earn undergraduate diplomas in healthcare administration are often continuing on to higher levels of study, in large part due to the increasing competitiveness of the industry landscape. Employment opportunities will vary for each individual and will depend on a variety of factors, including what type of degree was garnered, in what part of the country the person resides, and what kind of relevant work experience they have.
People who wish directly with healthcare providers often find themselves working at ambulatory care facilities, hospitals and hospital systems, physicians' offices, urgent care centers, home health agencies, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices, and medical group practices. Others end up working indirectly with healthcare through employment in a related enterprise, such as consulting firms, healthcare associations, integrated delivery systems, managed care organizations, mental health organizations, public health departments, or university or research institutions. Within each of these settings a variety of administrators work together to facilitate and oversee operations. Administrators may work in an assistant position, as a department head, or at the highest level as a chief executive, chief financial, or chief operations officer. The highest level positions are demanding and require significant experience and education, but they also provide attractive salaries. Additionally, many people view them as rewarding and meaningful because they provide an opportunity to have a significant impact on the system of caregiving.
Competition for jobs is fierce at all position levels, which has motivated a push for more graduates to pursue master's degrees. Demand is also being driven by the growing diversity of the field, as more employees are needed outside of traditional environments (such as hospitals) and in related industries. These other areas might include finance, government relations, human resources, IT, marketing and public affairs, planning and development, patient care services, nursing administration, medical staff relations, or materials management. People who are first breaking into the healthcare management career field frequently land entry-level or mid-level management jobs within one of these specialized areas. For this reason it has become increasingly important for students to develop a specialty and/or achieve graduate level education. In doing so, students can enter the workforce with a particular knowledge in, say, information technology or marketing, and benefit from a greater quality of employability.
Overall, the area of healthcare is expanding, diversifying, and changing. The country will continue to need more qualified candidates to oversee and manage multiple related departments and juggle their knowledge of finance, human resources, and other areas of business with a strong sense of leadership.
Iris Stone has worked as a freelance writer since 2011. Her writing has included content on medicine, healthcare, and education, although her interests are wide and varied. Prior to breaking into the freelance biz, Iris worked in sales for a health company and prior to that as an assistant in a chiropractic office. She is currently attending George Mason University and is majoring in Community Health. Check out her Check out her Google+ profile.