What Is Healthcare Administration?

Healthcare administrators shaking hands

Healthcare systems across the country and around the globe are constantly growing and changing, offering job opportunities for those who want to make a difference in the lives of others. One of these potential career options is in healthcare administration.

What is healthcare administration and what does a health administrator do? Professionals in healthcare administration strive to ensure that healthcare facilities are run effectively, and that high-quality healthcare is delivered to patients. Below, you’ll get more in-depth answers to questions, such as What does a healthcare administrator do on a daily basis?

In This Article:

Is a Career in Healthcare Administration Worth It?

Healthcare admin refers to the process and actions of planning and directing healthcare services. What do healthcare administrators do? While doctors, nurses and other providers focus on caring for their patients, healthcare administrators provide the behind-the-scenes managerial support that keeps the healthcare facility functioning as it should. Their mission is two-fold: to ensure that patients receive the best possible care, and to facilitate the financial success of the facility.

Of course, health administrators also have other objectives, such as ensuring that the facility and its departments remain in full compliance with healthcare regulations and other applicable laws. Healthcare administrators may also work toward keeping the facility up to date with changing healthcare and medical technologies. In addition, they may be concerned with strengthening the reputation of the facility in the eyes of patients and the larger public.

What Do Healthcare Administrators Do?

Now that you understand the overall role of these professionals, you may be wondering, What does a health administrator do during a typical day? A health administrator’s job responsibilities are largely determined by the needs of their employer. In addition, some healthcare administrators are responsible for the daily operations of an entire health facility, while others lead an individual department within the facility.

As a healthcare admin, an individual may be tasked with numerous responsibilities — the focus of which is supporting the healthcare team through strategic planning, operational decision-making, finance and leadership. Someone with a background in healthcare administration will not be focusing on providing direct patient care, but rather providing necessary support for the medical and health services team through a systems-based approach.

From budgeting to regulation to overall management of a facility, a professional in healthcare administration will work to create the best possible patient experience and outcomes by ensuring that a facility runs smoothly, meets all requirements and is prepared for all possible events. A few specific responsibilities include:1

  • Develop departmental goals and objectives
  • Recruit, train and supervise staff members
  • Manage the finances of the facility
  • Represent the facility at stakeholder meetings
  • Keep organized records of the facility’s services

Healthcare administrators also work closely with the medical staff and department heads within their facility, communicating between departments to ensure continuity of care.

Skills and Characteristics of a Good Healthcare Administrator

There are certain common characteristics associated with healthcare administration and they include the following:2

  • Leadership: As a healthcare admin, you will need to have strong leadership skills to be able to make decisions and to improve experiences within your healthcare facility. Understanding the goals of your organization and helping lead others toward this goal will be an important part of working to improve healthcare outcomes. You can also consider a specialized business and healthcare leadership degree if you are looking to position yourself for possible career advancement.
  • Communication: Being able to communicate effectively among the departments of your facility and with other stakeholders is an essential skill in healthcare administration. Making sure the facility runs efficiently includes ensuring that all departments are on the same page when it comes to certain issues.
  • Attention to detail: Maintaining organizational records of finances, patient-related outcomes and performance measures are important to the proper functioning of the organization, and require good attention to detail.
  • Technical skills: Healthcare administrators should be proficient with computerized technologies, as healthcare facilities often invest in technologies such as electronic health record (EHR) systems.
  • Analytical reasoning: Possessing an analytical mind is helpful for administrators, as they must critically analyze information to identify ways of improving operations.

Helpful Competencies for Healthcare Administration

A career in healthcare administration can allow you to positively impact the lives of patients without providing direct patient care yourself. In addition, you could work toward creating a supportive workplace culture that values its staff members, their professional development and their contributions to patient care. If you choose to earn a degree in healthcare administration, you may have opportunities to develop competence in the following areas:

Legal and Ethical Principles in Healthcare

It’s important to fully understand the legal and ethical principles within the field. This includes everything from recognizing, analyzing and resolving ethical dilemmas to understanding legal liabilities within healthcare administration.

Professionals should know the safety policies of their facility or organization and should understand the obligation to protect not only patients but also the staff and facility itself.

Business Analysis and Finances

As a healthcare administrator, you will be focused on addressing the business and operational needs of the organization. Therefore, you will need to understand basic business operations and performance as well as possess essential managerial communication skills, which may include conflict management, negotiation, external partner marketing and change management.

Additionally, as a healthcare administrator, you will need to understand finance principles. This includes understanding how the facility is operating in terms of financial performance, billing and budgeting. You will also need to make decisions for your facility based on these factors, so it is essential to understand how these factors impact the goals of the organization.

Healthcare Research and Methods

Leading and managing healthcare facilities involves analyzing data and incorporating new knowledge gained through research. The goal is to find ways of improving patient care, enhancing operational efficiency and supporting the professional development of staff members.

How To Become a Healthcare Administrator

Now that you know the answer to the question, What does a healthcare administrator do on a daily basis? you may be wondering how to pursue this career path. The requirements to become a healthcare administrator can vary, depending on the facility. In general, however, the steps are as follows:2

1. Bachelor’s degree: A bachelor’s degree is often the minimum requirement necessary to pursue this type of role. Aspiring healthcare administrators often choose to major in areas such as business administration, healthcare or even nursing.

2. Master’s degree: Some organizations and roles may require or express a preference for job candidates who hold a master’s degree, such as a Master of Science in Health Administration degree.

3. Relevant experience: The job of a healthcare administrator is usually not an entry-level one. Job candidates are often expected or required to have years of experience, either as a clinical provider (e.g., nurse) or in administration (e.g., administrative assistant or medical records specialist).

4. Licensure: All states require licensure for healthcare administrators of nursing homes. Other licensure requirements vary by state. In addition, some employers may require that certain positions be filled by a licensed registered nurse or clinical social worker.

5. Certification: Certification isn’t a strict requirement, but obtaining a voluntary certification may enhance one’s career qualifications. The Project Management Institute and the American Health Information Management Association both offer certification options.

Career Opportunities Within Healthcare Administration

There are many opportunities for aspiring healthcare administrators as the healthcare field continues to evolve and grow. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates job growth for medical and health services managers to increase by about 28% from 2022 to 2032, much faster than average. At this rate of job growth, employers expect to hire about 144,700 new professionals through this time period.3

Begin your journey toward pursuing a healthcare administration career at Grand Canyon University. In addition to our numerous bachelor’s degrees, the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions offers the Master of Science in Health Administration degree to online students. Fill out the form on this page to get started.

1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). What medical and health services managers do. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Oct. 24, 2023. 

2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). How to become a medical or health services manager. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Oct. 24, 2023.

3 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. Accordingly, data shown is effective October 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Health and Services Managers, retrieved on Oct. 24, 2023.

Approved by the associate dean of the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions on Dec. 4, 2023.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.