A consulting health care administrator is a professional who works the same as an in-house health care administrator, providing the same insight and analysis of the latter while also offering an outside perspective on issues that may arise in the facility that has hired them. These administrators often work for several months as a temporary employee at a facility, implementing changes and systems, researching patient delivery methods, and overseeing finance, information technology, and human resources programs and projects that require outside assistance. As the job title indicates, this is a position that requires high levels of training in both business and medicine. Consultants must meet and work with managers to ensure a high level of optimization for a healthcare facility and is required to complete their tasks in an organized and timely manner. Because of the various responsibilities included in the job, these consultants are highly valued and the job market remains competitive.
The median salary for a consulting healthcare administrator is reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be $96,540. Salaries can fluctuate between $50,050 to $150,000, with region and cost of living representing the discrepancy.
The beginning salary for a consulting health care administrator ranges from $48,000 to $93,000. The current national average for an entry-level position in this field is $71,758, as reported by Glassdoor.
Key responsibilities of a consulting health care administrator include interviewing personnel, analyzing problems, offering up solutions, reviewing legal and financial records, and investigating health care information systems utilized at the facility. Once the procedures of a facility have been reviewed, the consultant then writes a report about changes that have been made to the facility's operations in order to run more smoothly; this can include everything from human resource changes to implementing new health care technology. If necessary, a consultant will stay with the facility until the changes have been properly implemented before moving on to their next position.
Consulting health care administrators are required to have a background both in business and in medicine; therefore, they are expected to demonstrate critical thinking, communication, analytical, and interpersonal skills along with being organized and detail-oriented. Due to the short-term element of the position, these consultants must also be able to dive into work head-first, communicate with team members, analyze problems, create and implement solutions, as well as report findings and give recommendations based on the specific nature of their employment.
Degree and Education Requirements
An undergraduate degree in health care administration is the standard for this profession and can lead to high-paying jobs after graduation. However, many employers have shown preference for consultants who have also earned a master's degree in either business or health care administration; many schools in the country provide an MBA with a specialization in the field for this very reason. Majors at both the undergraduate and graduate level can vary from marketing to economics, with most professionals beginning their training in health care administration as a specialization during their undergraduate education. A consultant's salary can vary due to their education, with those holding master's receiving an average of $15,000 more per year than their counterparts who hold only a bachelor's degree. Additionally, private facilities and companies, who tend to pay more for consultants, prefer MBA candidates while public hospitals show little to no preference on graduate education.
Rewards and Challenges
A consulting health care administrator is a problem-solver; their job entails coming into an existing department or facility and implementing the necessary changes in order to see that health care improves in that arena. It is a fast-paced, challenging career that is perfect for professionals who enjoy fresh challenges, work well with new teams, are efficient, and are capable of solving problems in a quick and ethical manner. This position also comes with the benefits of having a high salary, health care benefits, and is growing at a rapid pace, meaning that consultants can find positions quite easily. However, there are challenges that may cause issues for some professionals; as a consultant, these administrators are not a regular part of any team and must contend with the high-stress environment that saw them accept the position. Health care consultants often work late hours and on weekends, must answer for all of their recommendations, and are often moving to new cities in order to find work. Consulting may not be a great fit for those who have a hard time to adjust to new situations on a rotating basis.
After obtaining an education, professionals interested in becoming consulting health care administrators will find a number of pathways that will strengthen their resume when pursuing employment. One of these pathways is to earn an endorsement from the National Society of Healthcare Business Consultants or NSCHBC. The Certified Healthcare Business Consultant label is awarded to society members who have completed the certification course and exam and have demonstrated competency in the CHBC Core Body of Knowledge, which provides the standards that all consultants in this field adhere to. Another pathway is to become a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, or ACHE, and obtain the Fellow of American College of Healthcare Executives credential. While not necessary to pursue a career in the field, it will nonetheless be a mark of a high-value candidate when interviewing for possible positions.
The growth of the consulting health care administrator field is faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; the field is expected to grow at a rate of 17 percent through 2024. Most professionals will work in healthcare facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, group medical practices, and in some cases, health care insurance companies. Positions that are available showcase the need for flexible consultants; these professionals may be in charge of one aspect or department or may take over supervision of an entire hospital. Because they are brought in to optimize efficiency for health care, professionals in this field will find jobs are plentiful throughout the country, with higher-paying but competitive employment found in major cities. Unique positions are also available in rural areas, with chances for more responsibility and less supervision, enabling consultants to pursue their career in a multitude of healthcare arenas.
Though a consultant does not stay at one facility for very long, their work can have a lasting impact on the health care companies they work for. With a strong education and years of training, these professionals can mean the difference between a bogged-down health care process and one that keeps its community healthy in an efficient manner.