Healthcare operates like any other business, even though the nature of healthcare is vastly different from any other business. Healthcare professionals and the general public are now recognizing this reality. Previously, healthcare administration was a role filled ad-hoc by medical professionals without structured training in management and administration. The pandemic revealed the weakness of this ad-hoc management system, with frontline workers and healthcare facilities crumbling under relentless pressure. This aspect of healthcare is receiving greater attention with more and more individuals considering pursuing a career in healthcare administration. This article presents six steps to pursue a career and excel in healthcare administration.
- Step 1 – Acquire Qualification in Healthcare Administration
If we go back a few years, there were very few universities offering degrees in healthcare administration. Nowadays, due to the lockdown and increased demand, these programs’ designs accommodate professionals’ schedules in the industry. Universities now offer an MBA healthcare administration online program that can be taken up remotely and finished within a year. The degree provides aspiring healthcare professionals with academic training in administration and management tools to prepare them for the industry.
- Acquire Industry Knowledge
Once you have acquired the necessary educational qualification, the next step is to enhance your industry knowledge. There are several ways through which you can do so. You can start by researching the healthcare industry, specifically the healthcare facilities you are interested in working. You can gather knowledge about your favored facility’s services, staffing, infrastructure and also try to understand the industry’s patterns at large. This knowledge will equip you with an understanding of healthcare operations, preparing you for the job.
- Learn Leadership Skills
The next step is to acquire leadership skills. Aspiring professionals can begin learning the different leadership styles and choose a style that best suits their personality and working style. Each type has its pros and cons and is suited to other healthcare settings. For instance, the autocratic leadership style is best suited for emergency settings that require quick decision-making. Contrastingly, the delegating leadership style is only suitable for remote-care environments where an experienced team operates independently. You can also develop your leadership style by selecting traits from different leadership styles. Having a signature style would set you apart and would bode well in establishing you as a leader in the organization, and with time, in the sector.
- Build Critical Thinking Skills
The next step for aspiring healthcare administrators is to develop their critical thinking skills. They can engage with online courses and take exercises and case studies to enhance their decision-making skills. The presence of these skills distinguishes between effective and ineffective healthcare administrators. Healthcare managers with critical thinking skills are highly valued for making good decisions. They can be relied upon to make crucial decisions. Essential thinking skills enable administrators to become patient and impartial in their decisions. Research has shown that healthcare leaders who possess critical thinking skills are more likely to be fair and unbiased in treating their staff and managing tasks. Hence, this skill and its application by healthcare administrators are appreciated by both their staff and their supervisors.
As a part of this step, you can also spend time learning the tenets of ethical judgment and decision-making. Knowing these will arm you with the specific knowledge of individual and patient ethics that is imperative to understand and consider in healthcare. Understanding ethics combined with critical thinking skills will generate goodwill and establish your reputation as a necessary, reliable, and ethical leader in the healthcare industry.
- Build Relationships
Leaders and managers with demonstrated critical thinking skills quickly trust their peers and colleagues from the previous step. Moreover, having the proper qualification and experience establishes your credibility. These factors enable managers to foster healthy and productive relationships with their staff, peers, and supervisors. As a healthcare administrator, you must communicate and work with different departments internally and vendors externally. Depending on your organization’s positioning, you may also have to establish relationships with government officials. You can dedicate some time to identifying key stakeholders internally and externally with whom you should build relationships. You can prioritize certain relationships over others depending upon their impact on operations and keep tabs on them actively to maintain the relationship.
It is particularly important, and the most individualized step as each builds relationships uniquely. Your relationship with your staff relies heavily on your style of leadership. Building relationships is essential to become successful and have a long-term career in the industry, especially healthcare. Therefore, it is recommended to allocate a proportion of your time building and developing relationships vertically and horizontally. It would be highly appreciated if you establish individual relationships to build a mutual understanding, explore the person’s motivations, and focus on improving the quality of care for patients. Healthcare administrators who can consistently do this inspire everyone around them through their demonstrated commitment to patients and people.
- Become Adaptable
The last step is to become adaptable as an individual and manager. The current healthcare crisis has taught us the value of having this skill. The healthcare sector is directly impacted by many natural, artificial, or biomedical problems. Hence, expanding your comfort zone by inserting yourselves in different situations will give you experience and exposure to diverse settings. Adaptability will ensure that you can operate individually and ensure your team’s operational continuity in routine and emergencies.
With the healthcare industry now prioritizing the recruitment of trained healthcare administrators, there are plenty of opportunities for aspiring healthcare professionals to forge a successful career in this area. They can start by qualifying healthcare administration and becoming knowledgeable about the industry. Next, they can develop or refine their leadership and critical thinking skills. Moreover, they should learn ethical judgment further to augment their reputation as essential and honest administrators. The following steps highlight the importance of building relationships with key stakeholders and becoming adaptable to ensure longevity in the field.