Job Profile: Hospice Administrator

A hospice is a residential nursing facility that provides compassionate round-the-clock care for terminally ill patients in the last phases of an incurable disease. Hospice administrators are given a senior-level leadership position in managing the daily operations of these facilities to guarantee that patients can live their final days as fully and comfortably as possible. The hospice administrator, also commonly referred to as the hospice director, has an important duty of acting as a liaison between patients, their families, and the medical staff to coordinate quality end-of-life care. Hospice administrators often supervise the delivery of pain control, home healthcare, inpatient treatment, spiritual healing, respite care, and bereavement services through the dying process. Below we’ve created a full job profile to show what aspiring health professionals can expect from specializing as a hospice administrator.

Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for all medical and health services managers employed in the United States is $103,680, which is equivalent to a mean hourly wage of $49.84. In particular, the median salary calculated specifically for hospice administrators is around average at $103,022 each year.

Beginning Salary

When just starting in hospice administration, individuals can expect to land in the bottom tenth percentile of earnings with a yearly salary of around $55,890. However, hospice administrators with many years of work experience and advanced leadership responsibilities in larger hospice facilities can eventually bring home upwards of $161,150 annually.

Key Responsibilities

Hospice administrators are given the hefty responsibility of making certain their hospice facility is meeting the needs of terminally ill patients in a manner that complies with local, state, regional, and national regulations. On a typical day, a hospice administrator can be involved in implementing new organizational policies, creating a budgeting plan, tracking expenditures, reviewing facility activities, establishing operational objectives, inspecting facility equipment, maintaining computerized records, fundraising, and assigning work schedules. Hospice administrators also have all staff management duties, which will include recruiting, hiring, training, supervising, evaluating, and sometimes firing the hospice’s medical personnel.

Necessary Skills

In order to be successful, hospice administrators must have strong interpersonal skills to effectively communicate with the staff, patients, families, other healthcare professionals, pharmacists, religious clergy, and funeral directors. Critical thinking skills are important for hospice administrators to identify strengths and weaknesses in their care programs that can be improved. Hospice administrators should possess strong problem solving, decision-making, time management, organizational, listening, and analytical skills to keep the hospice running smoothly at all times. Having technical skills to manage electronic health records and other advances in medical technology are also helpful. Above all, hospice administrators need to be compassionate and show empathy in managing care for patients facing the end of their life.

Degree and Education Requirements

Becoming a hospice administrator will require that you have earned at least a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited four-year college or university. Many aspiring hospice directors will earn their undergraduate degree with a major in health administration, health services management, business administration, public administration, or public health. In some cases, individuals move into hospice administration after receiving their bachelor’s degree in nursing and earning an RN license. For the easiest and shortest pathway towards leadership, a large number of hospice administrators go on to graduate school to pursue a Master of Health Administration (MHA) or Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare Management.

Pros and Cons of the Position

Working as a hospice administrator is an intrinsically rewarding path that gives individuals the chance to use their leadership abilities to make a meaningful difference in a patient’s final days on Earth. Hospice administrators are wearers of many hats and responsible for varied managerial tasks, which always keeps the job engaging without room for boredom. There’s also the benefit of a very high six-figure salary and faster than average job growth to ensure job stability. On the flip side, the nature of hospice care can be difficult for some administrators to handle. Hospice administrators often must work with emotional individuals who are stressed and grieving for the loss of their loved one. Many hospice facilities around the country have very high workloads, which can mean that administrators have to work long, irregular hours to ensure the facility meets all demands for excellent care.

Getting Started

While you’re earning your degree, it’s best that you start building your resume with relevant work experience to show your professional capability in the workplace. You can choose to volunteer at a local hospice facility, complete an administrative internship in a hospice, or find a part-time job working with terminal patients. Most employers will look for hospice administrators who have several years of managerial experience, so start taking on any healthcare roles that will put your leadership skills on full display. Every state in the United States requires nursing care and hospice facility administrators to become licensed by completing a state-approved training program, but requirements can vary greatly. It’s also beneficial for hospice administrators to become certified by the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses (NBCHP) after building two years of full-time experience and passing the 150-question exam.

Future Outlook

In general, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment of health services managers will skyrocket much faster than average at 23 percent, thus creating 73,300 new jobs before 2022. There’s expected to be even faster job growth for hospice administrators due to the fact that the massive baby boomer population is reaching late adulthood and requiring palliative care. Around 1.6 million patients currently receive services from hospice each year, but this statistics will likely rise dramatically as more Americans receive insurance coverage for hospice care thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Hospice administrators will likely find plentiful leadership opportunities in hospice inpatient facilities, nursing homes, residential care centers, acute care hospitals, and private home health agencies.

Hospice administrators work hard to plan, direct, coordinate, and supervise the medical services that are provided to terminal patients nearing the end of their lives. Administrators use their managerial acumen to govern the hospice facility’s programs, including inpatient treatments, home care services, and bereavement follow-ups for grieving families. If you make the choice to become a hospice administrator, you’ll have a financially and emotionally rewarding career in assuring the highest level of quality care is given to patients departing this life.