What is Healthcare Administration?
Healthcare administrators oversee the operations at healthcare facilities, also known as healthcare managers. They are responsible for developing healthcare systems that focus on community health, despite the fact that they are rarely in contact with patients. A healthcare administrator's job involves many different duties to ensure smooth operations.
If you're planning to become a health administrator you've chosen an excellent career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) this profession is projected to grow 14 percent in New Jersey over the next decade, so your job prospects are solid.
Health administrators are known by a variety of titles such as health services manager, healthcare administrator, and healthcare directors or executives. They might manage a department, a certain area of a clinic, or an entire hospital. They are also employed in nursing homes, assisted living communities, and physician group practices. Basically, any place that gives some type of health care requires an administrator to handle the back end of the business. Because of the wide range of duties, they must be well informed about regulations, policies, laws, and technology as well as business, basic accounting, medical information systems, and healthcare terminology.
Healthcare Administration Education in New Jersey
Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration (BSHCA)
Although you have an excellent chance of being hired with a bachelor’s degree you should plan on making it a stepping stone in your educational plan. Keep this in mind when choosing a program and make sure the school is both accredited and the credits will transfer to a master’s degree program. If you're not sure what area you'd like to work in you can explore different areas while taking your core classes during the first few semesters. Once you have a better idea where you'd like to work you can concentrate your education more in that area of expertise and will have a solid base when you're ready to go for your graduate degree.
Undergrad programs in health administration are pretty tough because of all the aspects required in the job. If you're not sure what you want you can look at similar degree programs such as nursing, health services management, business administration, and health information systems. All of these will give you a solid base in both management and healthcare and will most likely be accepted for a graduate program and for an administrative position.
While each school offers different courses with variations in title and subject, here are some examples of coursework for a bachelor’s degree in health administration:
- Accounting and budgeting
- Health economics
- Health information systems
- Health services management
- Healthcare legal issues
- Healthcare policies, laws, and ethics
- Healthcare research
- Hospital organization
- Human resources administration
- Medical terminology
- Strategic planning
Because a big part of your job as a health administrator will be overseeing employees and communicating with peers and other medical professionals your core classes should include English, writing, and speech.
If you know what type of work you'd like to do after graduation you should try to do your internship in that area. For example, if you plan to be the director of an assisted living facility you should do your intern work at an assisted living community or nursing home. If you'd like to eventually run a hospital department try to get an internship as an administrative assistant.
Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA)
Your graduate program in health administration will probably take at least two or three years and may take longer if you're working full time and attending school online or after work. If you're already working in the field at this point you probably already know what area you'd like to specialize in and that will be reflected in the program you take.
Your master's degree is the key to qualifying for the most prestigious and highest paying positions in the field, such as health information specialist for a major hospital or an executive position on the board of a major healthcare corporation.
Here are some examples of the type of coursework you'll take in a master’s degree program:
- Evidence based management research and evaluation methods
- Health economics
- Health informatics and information systems
- Health law
- Health operations methods
- Health policy
- Health quality techniques
- Healthcare finance and reimbursement
- Healthcare human resources
- Healthcare marketing and strategies
- Managerial accounting and budgeting
- Managerial epidemiology and population health
- Rural healthcare management
- Statistics for healthcare administration
In addition, you'll most likely be required to complete a Capstone project and thesis before earning your degree. Your Capstone project is a detailed paper or project on a subject regarding your chosen specialty and will demonstrate your knowledge and skill in that area.
Although certification and licensure are not required for health administrators in general if you're the administrator of a nursing home you must earn state licensure. Certification in specific areas is available from the following associations and is recommended to showcase your talents and knowledge base as an administrator:
- The American College of Health Care Administrators offers both Certified Assisted Living Administrator and Certified Nursing Home Administrator
- The American Health Information Management Association offers Health Information Management Certification
- The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management offers certification in Medical Management
Careers and Salary Outlook
Salary and Earnings Potential
Health administrators in New Jersey earn a mean wage of $127,380 per year which is above the national average but in line with the higher cost of living. The lowest ten percent, which typically represent those with the least education and experience, earn $85,690. The highest ten percent, usually representing those with a graduate degree and experience, earn an average of $183,010 per year. The national average for healthcare administrators is $104,280 per year and there are currently over 425,000 employed in the US currently. This means you can expect to nearly double your salary once you earn your master’s degree and have a few years experience.
Because the profession has such a wide range of duties it is common for health administrators to begin their career in one area and switching to administration once they have their graduate degree. Two examples of this are information system specialists and nurses because they are already experienced and trained in one or more important aspects of the field. One third of health administrators hold a bachelor’s degree and roughly the same percentage hold a master’s degree or doctorate.
If your school program has an internship requirement as part of your bachelor’s degree you should make sure it's in an area that will be considered on the job experience as it will make you more employable once you finish school.
As mentioned previously health administration jobs can have a wide range of titles, so it's important you read job postings carefully to see if it's a position you might qualify for.
Here are some examples of job titles in the healthcare administration field:
- Clinical Director
- Director of Nursing
- Health and Social Service Manager
- Medical Records Manager
- Mental Health Program Manager
- Nutrition Services Manager
- Nurse Manager
- Practice Administrator
- Program Manager, Office Manager
Here are some potential job positions and requirements:
These will give you an idea of the type of jobs for health administrators that are in New Jersey:
Nursing Home Administrator
- Bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or equivalent
- Current, unencumbered NHA licensure in New Jersey
- Strong administrative and organizational skills
- Possess effective communication skills to maintain positive relationship with residents, families, staff, physicians, consultants, providers, and governmental agencies, their representatives and the community
BHMG Regional Practice Manager
- Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration or related field, emphasis in Healthcare Administration preferred.
- 3 to 5 years experience in group practice management of multiple locations.
- Effective working knowledge of healthcare financial management, third party reimbursement issues, medical practice accounting, patient flow and facilities management.
- Completion of all required management training programs
Executive Director I
- Bachelor's Degree
- Two to four years related leadership experience or equivalent combination of education and experience
- Must have New Jersey CALA (Assisted Living Administrator license)
- Must have Alzheimer's & dementia experience
- Must have strong leadership skills, ability to adapt quickly, multi-task
- Bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or management
- 3 to 5 years supervisory experience in a medical practice or ambulatory medical setting.
- Knowledge of insurance coding and regulations
- Solid experience in and knowledge of billing and health insurance guidelines and practices including Medicare, commercial and managed care payers.
- Solid knowledge of and ability to use electronic scheduling, charging, medical records, and billing systems.
Additional Helpful Resources
Prominent Employers in New Jersey
There are many major health organizations in New Jersey and they all employ a large number of health administrators. Keep in mind, besides the companies listed below there are numerous physician’s groups, clinics, and insurance companies affiliated with major employers.
Each affiliate also employs numerous administrators in the various aspects of their businesses:
- Barnabas Health
- Meridian Health
- Merck & Co. Inc. Pharmaceutical
- Johnson & Johnson
- Virtua Healthcare
- Hackensack University Medical Center
- Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
- Cooper University Hospital
- Bristol-Myers Squibb
- Kennedy Health
- St. Joseph's Healthcare System
- The Valley Hospital
- University Hospital
Health Administration Associations
Once you begin your education as a health administrator you should join one or more professional organizations that are geared towards your future career. Membership in these associations will give you a wide range of benefits such as mentorship, networking with your peers, online courses and webinars, and notification of upcoming events such as seminars and conventions. Because some associations maintain job boards once you are ready to begin your career you'll have access to the latest employment listings, too.
Here are some professional organizations for health administrators in New Jersey:
- The New Jersey Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
- New Jersey Medical Group Management Association
- New Jersey Hospital Association
- Medical Society of New Jersey
- New Jersey Medical Group Management Association
- Health Care Association of New Jersey
- New Jersey Primary Care Association
- Home Care Association of New Jersey
- American College of Healthcare Administrators, New Jersey Chapter
Here are some national associations:
- Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
- Healthcare Administrators Association
- American College of Healthcare Administrators
- American College of Healthcare Executives