Inpatient admissions in America’s hospital systems have dropped drastically in the last decade, which has fed growth for outpatient care facilities. Sometimes called ambulatory, outpatient care refers to patient treatments or tests that are completed during the daytime without overnight stays. Outpatient care facilities typically specialize in certain procedures, such as diagnostic imaging, chemotherapy, dialysis, drug rehabilitation, weight loss intervention, or laparoscopy. Of course, keeping these facilities running smoothly requires having a strong administrator. Outpatient care facility administrators are senior-level directors who ensure patients’ needs are met with high-quality services. It’s their duty to maintain a safe outpatient environment where the staff follows all industry, state, and federal regulations. Outpatient care facility administrators juggle many duties to oversee the center’s HR, budgeting, clerical, legal, and clinical operations.
According to survey statistics on Salary.com, outpatient care facility administrators in the United States make a median yearly salary of $116,151. This equates a median hourly wage of $56, or $2,234 weekly. Total average compensation with bonuses, social security, 401K, disability, healthcare, and vacation included is $162,370 each year.
Newly promoted outpatient care facility administrators usually land in the bottom 10th percentile by earning around $83,937 per year. However, outpatient care facility administrators with more experience at the helm can eventually bring home base salaries over $150,174. Those who move into the coveted VP or CEO position make an average of $185,850 annually.
Outpatient care facility administrators play many pivotal roles in planning, directing, evaluating, and improving treatment given to outpatients in the entire facility. Administrators supervise the work of department heads to ensure the facility’s proper leadership. Yet they’ll typically report to the outpatient center’s chief executive and provide progress reports on established objectives. Outpatient care facility administrators will coordinate operational protocol, monitor compliance with industry standards, oversee the hiring process, develop clinical staff workshops, allocate budget resources, advise on legal matters, and addressing patient complaints. Administrators strive to maintain the economical and efficient performance of their outpatient facilities.
Since outpatient care facility administrators have varied responsibilities, having a well-rounded skill set is important. Being a “people” person with great interpersonal skills helps administrators effectively communicate with patients, clinicians, department heads, and executives. Managerial skills are essential for motivating and leading a productive staff of medical professionals. Outpatient care facility administrators need analytical, decision-making, and critical thinking skills to make quality improvements without breaking the budget. Problem-solving abilities are a must for administrators to properly and creatively respond to operational issues. Knowledge of clinical procedures and medical terminology is another must-have. Outpatient care facility administrators should also be confident when working with computers and EHRs.
Degree and Education Requirements
Most healthcare employers will only hire outpatient care facility administrators who are trained with at least a baccalaureate degree from an accredited four-year university. Studying health services management, health administration, public health, health science, or business is advised. Some nurses earn a BSN before switching into administrative roles too. Attending graduate school for a master’s degree is typically preferred though. Consider pursuing a Master of Health Administration (MHA), Master of Public Health (MPH), or Healthcare MBA. Earning a Doctor of Health Administration (DHA) isn’t required, but can aid in advancement. Clinicians could benefit from pursuing joint MHA/MD programs to master medicine and administration.
Pros and Cons of the Position
Getting promoted to outpatient care facility administrator is the goal for many MHA graduates, but the job does have drawbacks with the rewards. On the pros side, outpatient care facility administrators bring home lucrative salaries beyond the six-figure mark. Income rivals that of nurse practitioners and physicians without requiring bedside care. Outpatient care facility administrators are in growing demand as patient services shift away from hospitals. They can select from diverse clinical specialties, from oncology to physical therapy. Administrators have the ability to positively touch thousands of patients’ lives from behind the scenes. On the other hand, outpatient care facility administrators have above-average work stresses in keeping their medical centers afloat. Daily duties usually extend beyond the 40-hour weeks, perhaps including weekends. Besides traveling to conferences and attending meetings, administrators work predominantly in an office. Outpatient care facility administrators also need generous amounts of education and experience for their title.
Clinical experience in outpatient care facilities reigns supreme when hunting for open administrator jobs. Boost your resume by completing internships, practicum, administrative residencies, and fellowships in outpatient centers. Starting at entry-level positions like administrative assistant or medical records technician may be necessary. Building good bedside manner as a registered nurse is also a probable path to administration. Most employers prefer hiring outpatient care facility administrators with at least seven to 10 years of experience in healthcare. Earning licensure isn’t required unless you apply for administrative positions in nursing homes or long-term rehab facilities. Going the extra step for certification can pay off though. For instance, you could become a Certified Administrator Surgery Center (CASC) by passing an online exam. Board certification from the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) is also valuable.
Technology advancements have made it possible for many previous inpatient procedures to be completed on an outpatient basis. Outpatient care facilities are becoming more numerous to treat newly insured patients under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Aging baby boomers are also depending on outpatient services to cope with their chronic conditions, especially diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and arthritis. Modern Healthcare magazine reports that outpatient care accounts for over 60 percent of industry revenue. It’s no surprise that the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of outpatient care facility administrators will grow by 17 percent through 2024. Job prospects will be favorable with over 56,300 new administrative positions. Administrators can manage clinical services at ambulatory surgery centers, diagnostic imaging labs, weight loss centers, chemotherapy clinics, rehab facilities, and more.
Overall, outpatient care facility administrators establish the operational protocols and policies for the delivery of treatment patients need to cope with acute or chronic conditions. Depending on the size of the facility, administrators can oversee close-knit groups of clinicians to hundreds of healthcare professionals. All outpatient care facility administrators share the common purpose of improving the quality, safety, accessibility, and efficiency of patient services. Taking the steps to become an outpatient care facility administrator can provide a lucrative, rewarding healthcare career that’s in-demand.
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