Job Profile: Ambulatory Services Executive

Ambulatory services is a broad term used to describe medical care delivered on an outpatient basis outside of general or surgical hospitals. Ambulatory care settings only treat patients with chronic or non-severe acute conditions who check in and out the same day. Many medical procedures and surgeries once provided in hospitals have shifted to ambulatory services thanks to technology advancements. Nurses and doctors may be on the front lines of ambulatory care, but executives work behind the scenes to make their jobs easier. Ambulatory services executives maintain a senior-level management position to coordinate all aspects of outpatient care. Executives are in charge of making sure their ambulatory organization has the strong clinical, financial, and operational footing needed to deliver top-notch patient services.


According to the BLS, the 310,320 healthcare executives currently working in the United States bring home an average yearly salary of $103,680, which is equivalent to a mean hourly wage of $49.84. In particular, ambulatory services executives leading outpatient care centers earn slightly less with a mean wage of $97,400 each year. Ambulatory services executives still make more than administrators in nursing homes and home healthcare.

Beginning Salary

When first promoted, ambulatory services executives will likely land in the bottom tenth percentile of earnings with yearly income around $55,890. However, it's important to remember that ambulatory services executives in large outpatient facilities with years of experience can make a handsome six-figure salary upwards of $161,150 annually.

Key Responsibilities

Ambulatory services executives have the primary responsibility of making certain their facility is following the latest medical regulations to deliver accurate, timely, and safe patient care. Executives will partner with the center's physicians, surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to coordinate quality ambulatory services. On a typical day, ambulatory services executives may be involved in supervising managers, reviewing facility finances, organizing service records, collaborating with department heads, establishing healthcare policies, keeping up-to-date on laws, directing clinical activities, or representing their facility on governing boards. Ambulatory services executives wear many hats in ensuring that their outpatient care center is running smoothly.

Necessary Skills

Being successful as an ambulatory services executive will require that you sharpen your leadership skills in managing a large group of healthcare staff. Good interpersonal skills are a must for executives to communicate with investors, discuss care problems, and interact with health insurance representatives. Ambulatory services executives should the analytical skills to follow ever-changing regulations and create effective administrative solutions. Having tip-top organizational skills with a keen attention to detail helps executives organize records, especially in very large facilities. In today's digital age, it's also important that ambulatory services executives have the computer skills to adopt electronic health records appropriately.

Degree and Education Requirements

Working as an ambulatory services executives comes with a large amount of responsibility, so you'll need several years of post-secondary schooling. At the bare minimum, you'll need to have at least a four-year bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Undergraduate majors in health administration, business administration, management, health science, organizational leadership, and related fields are advised. Advancing to a senior executive position usually requires extra effort by attending graduate school. Earning a Master of Health Administration (MHA) or a Healthcare MBA will unlock better job prospects. Take electives on the financial, managerial, and personnel aspects of ambulatory services for the best career preparation.

Pros and Cons of the Position

As with other health administrator careers, ambulatory services executives have their fair share of rewards and challenges. On the positive side, there's above-average job growth in the healthcare industry and executive roles are recession-proof. Ambulatory services executives are able to interact with everyone from physicians to insurance companies and the public, which is ideal for the extroverted. Ambulatory services managers have a high salary potential that could cross the six-figure mark in time. Playing a big role in improving patient care is also rewarding. On the other hand, ambulatory services executives have an extremely stressful position in managing every aspect of their facility. Insurance reimbursements are declining while healthcare costs are rising, so executives often feel pressured monetarily. Ambulatory services executives may be on call outside the traditional 40-hour week to quickly resolve issues too.

Getting Started

While earning your degree, it's best to start getting your feet wet in healthcare administration by filling your resume with work experience. Jump on every valuable opportunity to complete an internship, job shadowing, part-time work, or even volunteer project involved in healthcare. It's virtually impossible to become an ambulatory services executive fresh from school. You can work up from lower-level administrative jobs, manage medical offices, change careers from nursing, or gain experience as a healthcare consultant. Working in an outpatient care center in a smaller community may be advised before moving into urban areas. Professional networking is key to market yourself as a true healthcare executive. Becoming a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) can also help. You'll need a master's degree, five years of management experience, and three references to apply.

Future Outlook

Inpatient care is costly, so our healthcare industry has shifted to place a greater emphasis on outpatient care through ambulatory services. According to Modern Healthcare, ambulatory services now account for nearly 60 percent of medical revenue. As our nation's large baby boomer population ages, there will be a larger demand on ambulatory care facilities to provide medical evaluations and procedures at lower costs. The BLS projects that the overall employment of healthcare executives will grow rapidly by 23 percent before 2022, thus creating 73,300 new jobs. Outpatient care centers, medical group practices, and health practitioner offices will receive the brunt of this development. Ambulatory services executives with a master's degree, professional credentials, and leadership experience will be well-off.

Overall, ambulatory services executives play a big part in planning, directing, and managing the day-to-day operations of non-emergency care facilities. Ambulatory care executives usually report to the Chief Executive Officer, but they maintain a top-level management position with plenty of power in coordinating operational procedures for all departments. Executives work hard to brainstorm targeted plans that streamline patient care processes across ambulatory practices for a seamless treatment experience. Becoming an ambulatory services executive requires years of hard work, but it can pay off both financially and intrinsically.

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