The saying, "It's not brain surgery," gives a nod to actual brain surgeons who must be highly skilled in the procedures they perform. But other roles in healthcare expand beyond a "clinical" aspect and require the same meticulous attention to detail.
Healthcare administrators belong to this group. These professionals make decisions that have a lasting impact on their staff, patients and communities. An advanced degree in healthcare administration can equip professionals with the necessary knowledge to excel in a field that requires both clinical and management skills.
Current Challenges of Healthcare Administration
One might argue that the position of the healthcare administrator has never been more challenging. The global COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant disruptor and has led to burnout among staff. As a result, many healthcare workers decided to exit their profession, which compounded the already-problematic shortage of healthcare workers.
Healthcare administrators also routinely encounter legal considerations, such as evolving state regulations and licensing requirements. These professionals need to be certain the healthcare workers they hire comply with rules and regulations. Ethics is another tricky area administrators must consistently navigate.
If the administration doesn't have the "right" people in place, such issues could make or break a health system. Human resources (HR) professionals help source the best candidates.
HR and Administration: Partners in Prosperity
Possessing knowledge and skills in human resources play a significant part in the success of healthcare administrators. HR professionals source and secure the talent that keeps healthcare organizations running like well-oiled machines.
HR departments must align with healthcare managers on an institution's specific needs. However, both groups also need to agree on what they're willing to do to secure the best talent — and then keep them.
One factor that the pandemic has highlighted is workers' work-life balance. Lack of a work-life balance, especially given the global crisis, has contributed to today's so-called "Great Resignation," where there is a widespread need for workers in almost every industry. In healthcare, encouraging a healthy work-life balance might look like more flexible scheduling for physicians, nurses and support staff.
With the rise of new medical technologies, some healthcare workers might not feel confident if they haven't received appropriate training. When the pandemic forced healthcare providers to minimize in-person visits and turn to telehealth, not everyone was ready to make that transition.
Lack of confidence is the last thing administrators want with their team members. Institutions can set workers up for success by ensuring they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to perform their jobs optimally. This preparation might also involve the greater scope of providing training for advancement opportunities within the organization — another great strategy for retaining valuable members of a medical community.
Workplace culture is another critical piece of the puzzle. Administrators and HR professionals can often guide an organization's culture. Leadership must consider the following questions regarding workplace culture: Is it collaborative? How do top-level C-suite members interact with the staff? How are complaints handled? Are there any instances of staff-on-staff bullying? How diverse is the organization? By optimizing culture, administrators define their institution as the "organization of choice" for potential hires.
Administrative Success Starts With Education
These are all factors that need consideration when hiring and developing healthcare workers. Yet, administrators can ensure their own success via educational opportunities.
The University of North Carolina in Wilmington (UNCW) offers several relevant courses in its Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) online program. The following represent just a few that prepare graduates to actively produce optimal outcomes, whether tending to administrative duties, managerial tasks or partnering with HR:
Strategic Management and Marketing for Healthcare Professionals. For institutions to maintain a competitive edge, administrators must understand the modern models of healthcare organizations — and what sets one apart from the others. Then, they need to relay that via marketing strategies, both internally and externally.
Operations Management and Quality Assessment for Health Organizations. There's been a renewed emphasis on organizational productivity and heightening efficiency and effectiveness in operational decisions within the healthcare environment. This course prepares students to address operational challenges (and opportunities). And it provides them with a foundation of critical-thinking, problem-solving and operations management skills.
Legal and Ethical Issues for Health Professionals. Legal and ethical issues represent a significant barrier to maintaining top-performing healthcare organizations. Topics in this course run the gamut, covering patient-caregiver relationships, high-tech medicine, regulatory compliance, healthcare ethics, criminal aspects of healthcare, corporate structure, patient rights, medical records and disclosure of patient information.
Underlying it all is Introduction to Healthcare Management, which focuses on organizational behavior, corporate compliance, cultural competency and diversity, revenue cycle considerations, healthcare reform legislation and critical management processes.
An advanced degree in healthcare administration can equip healthcare professionals to run both patient- and employee-focused organizations.
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