Job Profile: Outpatient Care Supervisor

Outpatient care, also called ambulatory care, refers to any medical treatment that doesn’t require an overnight stay. Outpatient care can be administered in a hospital, but it’s most often provided in community clinics, surgery centers, medical group practices, physician offices, mental health services, and imaging centers. With so many patients coming in and out every day, outpatient facilities must have strong administrative leaders. Outpatient care supervisors are upper-level managers who oversee all facility operations to ensure high-quality patient services. As their title suggests, supervisors will supervise a team of outpatient care workers, including nurses, physician assistants, and doctors. Outpatient care supervisors wear many hats in handling the financial, staffing, legal, clinical, and clerical aspects of smoothly running an outpatient center.

Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 310,320 health services managers, including outpatient care supervisors, in the United States earn an average yearly salary of $103,680, which is equivalent to $49.84 per hour. Specifically, administrators in outpatient care centers make slightly less at $97,400 on average. In comparison, nursing home administrators bring in $85,730 but hospital managers earn $110,840 annually.

Beginning Salary

When just being promoted to outpatient care supervisor, expect to land in the bottom 10th percentile of earnings with yearly income around $55,890. However, outpatient care supervisors with years of experience and senior responsibilities can make upwards of $161,150 each year. Washington DC, California, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey generally pay the most.

Key Responsibilities

Outpatient care supervisors have the primary responsibility of planning, coordinating, directing, and supervising the delivery of outpatient patient services. Supervisors will usually manage a certain department or clinical area in larger facilities, but others may oversee the entire outpatient care center. Typical work duties include establishing facility objectives, ensuring compliance with government regulations, hiring new staff, starting staff development programs, creating budgets, overseeing patient billing, devising shift schedules, resolving complex patient inquiries or issues, and evaluating clinical staff’s work. Outpatient care supervisors may report to the facility’s president or CEO and represent their department in board meetings.

Necessary Skills

Being an outpatient care supervisor requires having strong people skills to interact daily with patients, families, administrative staff, and healthcare professionals. Communication skills are essential for supervisors to effectively talk about operational issues and discuss solutions. Outpatient care supervisors must have leadership skills to retain a motivated, productive group of medical providers. In today’s digital age, computer skills are a must for supervisors to utilize electronic health records, coding systems, and data analysis software. Analytical skills are important for outpatient care supervisors to correctly interpret budgets and allocate funds in a cost-effective manner. Supervisors should also be honest, detail-oriented, confident, compassionate, and organized.

Degree and Education Requirements

The minimum education requirement for becoming an outpatient care supervisor is a four-year bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Earning an undergraduate major in health administration makes the most sense. Majoring in public health, nursing, business administration, or public administration could also work. Regardless, make certain that you’re taking coursework related to health law, accounting, finance, strategic planning, health economics, health information systems, medical terminology, and health services management. Forging ahead to a Master of Health Administration (MHA) or Healthcare MBA is smart though. Master’s degrees offer greater depth of knowledge and administrative internships to further your room for advancement.

Pros and Cons of the Position

Working as an outpatient care supervisor will be both rewarding and challenging. On the plus side, outpatient care supervisors earn a stellar salary that often breaks the six-figure salary later in one’s career. The growing job outlook in health administration means plenty of new openings for outpatient care supervisors. If supervisors get worn out, they can easily switch to managerial jobs in another specialization, such as insurance, pharmaceutical, or medical research. Payscale also reported that health administrators are extremely satisfied with their work and gave the job five stars. However, outpatient care supervisors juggle many responsibilities that could lead to above-average stress. Supervisors may need to work beyond the traditional 40-hour week, even though they’re not usually on call 24/7. Most employers require supervisors to invest significantly in schooling, certification, and experience. Outpatient care supervisors also have to continually deal with increasingly complex regulatory policies.

Getting Started

Getting the right amount and type of experience is foremost when building a career as an outpatient care supervisor. While earning your bachelor’s and master’s, take advantage of opportunities to obtain hands-on training in outpatient care centers. Most CAHME-accredited degrees include an administrative residency or internship. It’s likely that you’ll have to start at entry-level administration jobs before being promoted. On average, outpatient care supervisors have at least three years of experience. Starting out as office manager, assistant administrator, financial clerk, or even nurse could pave your promotion pathway. Obtaining professional certification can also help. For instance, you could become an Intensive Outpatient Care Program Manager through the CCMC. Through PAHCOM, you may pursue the Certified Medical Manager (CMM) credential. Earning board certification as an ACHE Fellow is wise too.

Future Outlook

Rapidly improving medical technologies are making many patient care services, including invasive surgeries, switch from inpatient to outpatient. Medical group practices are expected to become larger to accommodate the aging baby boomers. As this population reaches late adulthood, the demand for outpatient treatment, surgeries, diagnostics, and therapies will skyrocket. According to the BLS, overall employment of health administrators is projected to grow by 17 percent through 2024, thus creating 56,300 jobs across specialties. Outpatient care supervisors will unlock the best job prospects with a master’s degree, five or more years of experience, and certification. Jobs can be found everywhere from ambulatory surgery centers and diagnostics labs to private practices and clinics.

Outpatient care supervisors play a prominent role in overseeing the delivery of clinical treatment to patients not requiring constant supervision. Their job coming to the forefront, especially since Becker’s Hospital Review showed a whopping 72 percent increase in outpatient services. Outpatient care supervisors can be charged with supervising a small healthcare team or hundreds of staff members, but their goal remains to keep quality patient care accessible. If you work towards becoming an outpatient care supervisor, you’ll have the opportunity to help outpatient facilities run efficiently, safely, and responsibility for growth.

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